A bill designed to help Indiana casinos struggling from declining revenues is moving forward despite the objections of some in the gaming community. A House committee approved the measure Thursday, the first step towards passage.
Indiana’s gaming revenues have been in steady decline for some time, worsened in recent years by increased competition in neighboring states.
Proposed legislation would allow racetrack casinos to add a limited number of table games with live dealers, while the state’s riverboats would be permitted to move inland on their existing footprint.
The vast majority of the state’s casinos praise the proposed changes. But Rising Star Casino in southeastern Indiana, which is run by Full House Resorts, says they don’t have the money to move on land.
Full House Resorts CEO Dan Lee recently took over the company. He says he’s trying to figure out ways to boost his facility through other means, and allowing racinos to add live dealers could cripple those plans.
“How do we bring in celebrity restaurateurs and fix up things and everything, and then out of left field I heard, ‘Oh, you might get stabbed in the back - they’re going to let tables into the racinos,’” Lee said. “And I thought, ‘Well Jesus, do we throw good money after bad?’”
The bill also includes several tax breaks and incentives, which Lee says he does support.
The committee’s approval sends the bill to House Ways and Means, where lawmakers will more closely examine the fiscal aspects of the legislation.