Despite some optimism from pro-gambling legislators to start the year, Indiana legislators failed to pass two online gambling bills this session. Both HB 1356 and HB 1337 did not garner enough support in Indiana’s legislature to pass. Similar bills have failed to pass in previous years. Despite the success of Indiana’s sports betting operators, lawmakers can not come to an agreement regarding online casino operations.
There are several reasons why the bills did not pass this session. Ultimately, it seems to have boiled down to a lack of support in a shortened session. This is not the first time that gaming legislation has died on the floor. Sen. Jon Ford has been trying to push gaming bills through since 2020.
Ford and his supporters are still encouraged about the future of their efforts. Pro-gambling legislators have focused on educating other lawmakers about the gaming industry to garner support. Ford is hopeful to have more success next session. With more time to educate others and more time in the session, pro-gambling legislators should have more success.
What Were HB 1356 and HB 1337?
The two Indiana gaming bills in question would have allowed licensed operators in the state to operate online gaming sites. In Indiana, licensed operators are limited to riverboat casinos and racetracks. HB 1356 was authored by Rep. Doug Gutwein, with Rep. Ethan Manning listed as a co-author. Meanwhile, HB 1337 was written by Rep. Alan Morrison.
There were also some key differences between the two bills. Namely, HB 1337 would have repealed several statutes currently in place. For instance, HB 1337 would have repealed the following:
- Language concerning specific circumstances that result in supplemental payment to Hammond, Michigan City, and East Chicago
- The existing historic hotel distance community fee
- The requirement that Vigo County riverboat operators make payments to the city of Evansville
Sen. Jon Ford has proposed similar gaming bills in the past. Ford’s proposed bills in 2020 and 2021 also failed to garner enough support from other legislatures. The House Bills did not pass this session. However, iGaming proponents could have another chance in the senate this April.
Why did Indiana’s Online Casino Bills Fail?
To pass in the senate, the iGaming legislation would have to address the issues that stopped the House Bills from passing. There are several contributing factors that led to the downfalls of HB 1356 and HB 1337. Perhaps the biggest reason the bills did not pass is that the timing was just not right.
The iGaming bills failing to pass is disheartening for many proponents in the state. However, the Senate has a chance to pass their bill later this year. If the Senate also fails to pass an iGaming bill, the next legislative session could present a better chance for iGaming bills.
A 2023 session would not be in an election year. It would also be a longer session since it is an odd year. It will also give legislators who are pursuing the bills more time to prepare for the next round of voting.
What Will Gaming Proponents do Now?
Indiana legislators hoping for new iGaming laws will now turn their attention to the Senate. Sen. Jon Ford introduced a bill last month, SB 417, that would authorize iGaming. Under Ford’s bill, all 14 of the licensed casinos and racetracks in Indiana could apply for an interactive gaming license.
Ford’s bill is similar to the house bills in that it includes an 18% tax on gross receipts from interactive gaming. The senator’s bill also includes provisions such as:
- $500,000 initial interactive gaming license application fee. $50,000 annual renewal fee.
- Licensed casinos can partner with up to 3 online brands
- Online brand partners have an initial licensing fee of $100,000. $25,000 annual renewal fee.
- 3% of gaming revenue tax is for local governments
- 33% tax revenue collected by the state goes toward the Addiction Services Fund
Outside of SB 417, there are other things that proponents can focus on. The biggest of which is educating other lawmakers about the positives of online gaming. Indiana legislators have worked with the Casino Association of Indiana, iDEA Growth, and UNLV to help sway lawmakers to vote for an online casino bill.
Hopes of a new online casino bill in Indiana are off to a rocky start. The Indiana legislature failed to pass HB 1356 and HB 1337. Lawmakers in Indiana have struggled to craft an iGaming bill for several years, so the defeat is not unexpected. Other factors, such as the length of the session and the pending elections later this year, also likely contributed to the bills not passing.
Ford and his supporters are hoping they can pass an iGaming bill by the time the session ends in April. In the meantime, proponents of online gambling will continue to work with other agencies to build support for their cause. Ford and other lawmakers have brought in the Casino Association of Indiana and even UNLV, among others, to help build support.