Governor Eric Holcomb has signed the much-debated casino bill into law. House Enrolled Act 1015 authorizes sports betting at Indiana casinos and via smartphones, as well as allows live-dealer gambling at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville in 2020. Previously, live gaming would have gone into effect a year later.
The bill was approved by the Indiana General Assembly on the final day of the legislative session. It also allows Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, which owns the two Majestic Star riverboat casinos in northwest Indiana, to move one of the casinos to a new location in downtown Gary and the other to a new spot Terre Haute. The latter must still be approved by voters, according to our partners at WIBC.
Additionally, Spectacle will be required to pay a $20 million fee to relocate the Terre Haute casino, and must also compensate the cities of Evansville, French Lick, East Chicago, Hammond and Michigan City for what the station says would be an expected drop in business due to the relocated casinos.
Holcomb released a statement after signing the bill Wednesday:
Gaming is a highly regulated industry that once had little competition, but now does from surrounding states and new technology. By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers. Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs – both permanent and in construction. I will direct the Indiana Gaming Commission to monitor for potential effects of this bill so that we can make necessary changes in future legislative sessions.
State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) also expressed his happiness with the bill’s signing:
I am pleased that the governor chose to sign this monumental bill into law. The impact it will have on Gary, Northwest Indiana as well as the entire state is widespread, and I look forward to the historic changes that will take place. This is something our community has been working on for over a decade, and with this signature, hundreds of Hoosiers will find employment. Gary now has the opportunity to become an intermodal gateway for the United States.
Officials in northwest Indiana have expressed plans to transform the lakefront at Buffington Harbor, where the casinos are currently located, into an intermodal hub once the casinos move inland.