Live Dealers Still a Controversial Issue at the Statehouse

Apr 22, 2015

Sen. Luke Kenley (foreground) listens to testimony from Centaur Gaming VP John Keeler at the Statehouse Wednesday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

As lawmakers negotiate the final details of gaming legislation, the future of live dealers at racetrack casinos remains one of the most controversial provisions.  Racino advocates made a final public plea Wednesday.

When the gaming bill left the House, it allowed racinos to replace some electronic games with tables that have live dealers.  The Senate altered that arrangement, instead allowing racinos to add live dealers beginning in 2021. 

Centaur Gaming Vice President John Keeler, whose company operates both racinos, says the House version only permitted 24 live tables between the two facilities – which he says was a good compromise.

“[It afforded] both Rising Star and French Lick an opportunity to prepare for a time when there might be more table games at the racinos,” Keeler said.

Rising Star and French Lick casinos have been among the loudest voices opposing live dealers at racinos, expressing concerns those additions would significantly hurt their bottom lines. 

LaPorte Republican Representative Tom Dermody, the bill’s author, says it’s with those two casinos in mind that the five year delay was put in.

“The timeframe would allow them to have some time to prepare, change their business model,” Demody added.

Lawmakers have a week to develop a final compromise and get House and Senate approval for the gaming bill.