Casino Talks Continue in Indiana

by Jim Hall

IndianaCasino gaming is still being considered in the state of Indiana.

In the past, the state of Indiana has considered creating a gaming venue in the city of Indianapolis. Plans were considered but it seems efforts failed to move forward. Lawmakers now seem to still be focused on seeing a casino approved for the state but this time are focusing on a city on the western side of the state.

Terre Haute Casino

Since 2015, Full House Resorts has tried to get lawmakers of the state to approve a casino for the Indianapolis area of the state. However, all efforts have failed. The company is now focusing on the Terre Haute area which is about two hours away from the casino located in Evansville. This change in the project now has those in Evansville a little scared.

Mayor Winnecke of Evansville and the Tropicana Evansville gaming venue are both worried about a gaming venue coming to their north. The casino just recently began efforts of expansion and this could disrupt their new goals. The general manager of the casino, John Chaszar, stated that the business in Evansville would definitely be affected. According to Chaszar, the company just made a substantial investment in the community and a loss of revenue would impact the casino revenues as well as the city revenues.

Right now there are 10 casino gambling licenses up for grabs, all standard options. Two are also available for racetrack operators in the state. Because of a potential new bill, Full House Resorts, the owners of the Rising Star Casino located in the southeastern region of the state, would be able to open a new venue in Terre Haute.

The company tried to see legislatures allow for a casino in Indianapolis in 2015 but the plan did not receive enough support. The company wanted to open a gaming venue in a heavily populated area but not have to compete with casinos located in nearby Cincinnati. Now, it seems the company has no plans for Indianapolis at this time and are focusing on Terre Haute, despite the city have only just over 60,000 residents, much less than Indianapolis.

A Hot Location

It seems that the company feels the Terre Haute area will be a hot location as the area would have the ability to attract visitors from Illinois. Leaders in Terre Haute are hoping to see a new gaming venue added and are looking to a casino as a way to improve the local economy as well as bring more people to the area permanently.

To do so, Senate Bill 354 would have to gain ground. The bill was introduced by Senator Jon Ford, of Terre Haute. The bill has been amended to allow Full House Resorts the ability to pay for preservation of a historic hotel in Orange County and make a payment to the horse racing casinos until they have the ability to offer table games which would be in 2021.

Full House Resorts would not be required to pay Evansville, neither the town nor the casino. According to Ford, the fiscal affects to Evansville would be minimal. Ford pointed out that the fact the casino is updating and moving inland will also help to increase their revenues.

In the past gambling expansions have not had the full support of lawmakers in the state. However, it seems that now, legislators are not worried about the actual expansion of gaming but want to see revenues brought back to the state and gaming is the way to do it.