The Gaming Study Committee approved a report today that indicates a land-based casino in Gary could generate an additional wagering tax of about $11M. State Senator Earline Rogers of Gary says she intends to file legislation that will put together the findings of the gaming study committee announced today, including moving one riverboat casino license inland and returning the city’s second riverboat casino license to the state. The plan is targeted at maximizing the asset for Gary and the state.
Rogers has supported a land-based casino in Gary for 20 years, first proposing the idea in 1989 in a bill that narrowly died in the House of Representatives that year.
Rogers says the $11M figure is underestimated and does not take into account any new growth in attendance.
The committee’s report also said that the state’s casino industry would benefit if one of Gary’s two riverboats were relocated to a new land-based location while the other casino’s license would be returned to the state.
Lawmakers on the panel, however, did not endorse an effort from Fort Wayne leaders to allow a referendum for a new casino there.
The report stated that because of “the likelihood of new casinos and racinos in neighboring states, the committee believes an expansion of gaming to new cities or counties where gaming currently does not exist is not in the best interests of the state or the gaming industry at this time.”
Mayor Rudy Clay and Sen. Earline Rogers (D-Gary) say Majestic Star’s bankruptcy filing last month should be no obstacle. If Majestic Star lacks the financing, Rogers predicts, authorization of a more favorable location will “open the floodgates” to developers eager to snap up the license.
Indiana casinos employ an estimated 15,000 workers and pay a significant amount in admission and wagering taxes to the state, two facts that play heavily in Statehouse discussions about that industry.
A final report from the Gaming Study Committee is expected to be published next week. The committee will make recommendations, but not an omnibus gaming bill for 2010 as originally expected.
The following reports are available now on the committee’s web page: