Amendment Makes Big Changes to Casino Bill
GARY - A bill that would allow the owner of Majestic Star casinos in northwest Indiana to move inland and build a new casino in Terre Haute has received some major changes. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the House Public Policy Committee has approved an amendment to Senate Bill 552 that would require Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment to pay a $100 million fee to the state in order to move the Majestic Star casino inland and relinquish its second gaming license, which was to be transferred to Vigo County.
Committee Chairman Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) authored the amendment and said the goal was to deliberately manage the continued development of the gaming industry in Indiana, according to the publication.
"The licenses, in my opinion, and I believe it would be accurate to say, are the property of the state, that we are able to, if the location moves, change the conditions of those licenses," Smaltz said. "It's not as though we're going in and taking the licenses away where they sit."
Smaltz said the $100 million figure is not a finalized number and could change as the bill continues to move through the legislature. John Keeler, general counsel for Spectacle said having to pay the fee and surrender the second license would "make it a little harder" for the company to continue its plans for a land-based casino in Gary, which it says could generate $75 million in new revenue for the state and create 400 jobs.
The publication reports the revised legislation also eliminates a "hold-harmless" provision approved by the Senate that would have ensured other Northwest Indiana casino cities had at least their 2019 gaming tax revenue if a new Gary casino in a better location attracted players would gamble at the casinos in Hammond, East Chicago or Michigan City.
The bill now heads to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration
You can read more about the amendment and its potential impact from The Times of Northwest Indiana by clicking here.