INDIANAPOLIS –State Sen. Earline S. Rogers (D-Gary) says she will introduce legislation in the 2010 legislative session that includes the findings published by this year’s legislative Gaming Study Committee. Rogers’ bill will address tax and regulation of Indiana’s riverboats and horse racing facilities, also known as “racinos.” State Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) will file a companion bill in the House.
“The Gaming Study Committee was asked to consider the impact of new casinos in neighboring states, and it found that we could make changes to help keep our riverboats and casinos competitive. My bill will put those changes into law and protect the 15,000 Hoosier jobs in the casino industry,” Rogers said.
The proposal would allow any existing riverboat casino to move to land and would remove the requirement that riverboats maintain marine navigation systems. Riverboats that convert to land-based casinos would be limited to relocate in the same city or county and would be charged a fee to move the license.
The bill would also allow one of the Gary riverboats to move inland and for the city’s second riverboat casino license to be returned to the Indiana Gaming Commission.
“Gaming is a billion dollar industry in Indiana, and it provides tax revenues to the state and to our local communities,” Rogers said. “The commitment we’re offering is to keep the burdens low so Indiana’s industry can compete amidst the changing dynamics.”
Rogers worked in consultation with State Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) to include language that would provide relief to Indiana’s two racinos. The bill would remove a provision that now requires racinos to pay wagering tax on revenue that is not kept by the casino, but set aside for the horse racing industry. The study committee found that this provision creates a significant difference in the tax structure between the racinos and the riverboat casinos and imposes an undue burden on the racinos.
“This provision is important to address the disparity of tax treatment between the racinos and the riverboats,” Lanane commented. “The change will maintain support for the state’s horse racing industry, but alleviate some of the unnecessary tax burden on the racinos. The jobs provided by both of these industries are critical to our local economies.”