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US – Indiana bill for sportsbetting and casino relocations moves to the House

By - 28 February 2019

The state of Indiana’s Senate has approved a bill that will allow sports betting, permit one of its existing casinos to move to Terre Haute and another to move inland and also quicken the process to introduce live dealers at the state’s racinos.

Bill author Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, described it as a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity.’

Senate Bill 552 will now need to be approved in the House. In terms of sports betting any of the state’s casinos, racinos or satellite locations will be able to apply to offer sports betting. The introduction of sports betting is expected to generate $1.6m to the state’s budget in 2020. The bill would also permit mobile sports betting although players would have to sign up in person at a casino or off-track betting facility, such as Winner’s Circle in Indianapolis.

The more contentious issue has been with the approval to relocate two riverboat casinos currently located immediately next to each other by the same operator. Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II would be allowed to relocate to Terre Haute in the hope it will kick start economic development in Gary’s Buffington Harbor on Lake Michigan. Both casinos are in the process of being bought by Spectacle Entertainment. In the case of the Terre Haute relocation there would be no guarantees as a completely new casino tender could be launched.

The bill also erases the two-license limit on the number of casinos a company can operate in the state to make the tender as competitive as possible for casino groups that already have two properties. Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts, owner of the Rising Star Casino, said it would be interested in competing for the new licence in Terre Haute.

The bill also fast tracks the date to bring in table gaming at Indiana’s racinos from 2021 to this year to 2019.

The controversy centres on whether this is an expansion of gambling in the state or an improvement to existing offers.

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