HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — A top legislative leader wants to make Indiana’s
riverboat casinos more attractive so they can compete better with newer
venues in neighboring states.
President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, told the Times of Munster for a report
Thursday that he wants the General Assembly to do something to reverse the
decline in state tax revenues from casino wagers and admissions.
“There is an
all-out assault on the system that Indiana has implemented, which was to
take other people’s money. They’re out to get it back,” Long said, referring
to neighboring states.
Ten of Indiana’s
13 casinos are located in counties adjacent to other states. Most of the
gamblers going to northwest Indiana’s five casinos come from Illinois or
Michigan, The Times reported, but several tribal casinos have opened in
southern Michigan near the Indiana border, and Illinois has proposed casinos
for Chicago and its south suburbs. Two of Ohio’s four casinos will be
located in Toledo and Cincinnati, both near the Indiana border.
“They are going
to resolve that (in Illinois), and they are going to build casinos probably
one right on the Indiana border, according to my sources,” Long said. “So
they will be trying not only to keep their residents there but to take some
of ours over.”
tax revenue from wagers and admissions were 5.4 percent lower last year
compared with 2008. Gaming taxes remain Indiana’s third-largest source of
revenue after income and sales taxes but now make up just 4 percent of the
state’s total revenue stream.
“There’s a lot
of pressure on us as a very important source of revenue is going down,” Long
said. “Gaming revenue is under assault right now.”
need more casinos, just “more competitive” ones, Long said.
“That could mean
a lot of things, so we’ll just have to see what the proposal is,” Long said.
“Then we’ll have to run it past our caucus and see if there’s an appetite
for doing anything about it.”
Attempts to win
approval for moving Gary’s Majestic Star casinos inland from the Lake
Michigan shoreline have foundered in the Legislature in the past, in part
because of Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.’s efforts to protect his
city’s Horseshoe Casino.
Long said he’s
more open to a Gary casino deal now, but said any plan for gaming changes
will need support from the entire northwest Indiana delegation.
important for Lake County to have everyone reading off the same page for
what they’d like to see for their community, and then we can talk about it,”
Earline Rogers, D-Gary, who sponsored the legislation creating casino
gambling in Indiana and championed a land-based casino in Gary, was pleased
by Long’s remarks.
recognition of the surrounding states and their impact on our gaming
industry in Indiana, I think that’s the first step in terms of trying to
move the idea of land-based casinos forward,” Rogers said.
She said she
hopes a Gary-specific legislative proposal that includes a land-based casino
and a teaching hospital with a trauma center and other economic development
programs will have enough of everything that all lawmakers from the region
will support it.