Does Indiana Really Need Extended or Expanded Gaming?
Not too long ago, the Indiana State Senate passed a bill that would allow the horse tracks located in Anderson, IN and Shelbyville, IN to convert into fully operational casinos. These tracks, affectionately referred to as “racinos” by those who frequent them, are already allowed to offer slot machines and electronic gaming on their property in addition to betting on the races themselves. However, this legislation would, in a sense, bring the thrill of gambling from Las Vegas right to the Hoosier state by allowing table play. No matter how you try to spin this legislation, this can only be described as extended or expanded gaming and Indiana does not need to expand its gaming laws.
Proponents of this legislation in the State Senate say that this expansion is needed so that Indiana can compete with neighboring states opening up casinos, most notably Ohio. With all due respect to our elected leaders in the State Senate, but that is out in left field. I, for one, do not see any Hoosiers by-passing one of our eleven casinos to drive to Cleveland or Columbus or Cincinnati.
Since expanded gaming passed the Senate, it now heads to the people’s chamber…the Indiana House of Representatives. Speaker Brian Bosma has opposed any attempts to expand gaming in the Hoosier state in the past however, there are still some who are concerned that the Speaker might change lanes and support the Senate passed legislation. I personally do not see this as a viable outcome. Speaker Bosma has a long history against this issue and I do not see him throwing that away.
This legislation is a knee-jerk reaction to what the state of Ohio is doing with their casinos. Those who support this legislation say that by adding two additional casinos (to our existing eleven) will counter the casinos in Ohio. I am sorry, but that is a hurried and harried approach. What Indiana NEEDS to do is study how the casinos in neighboring states are already affecting the ELEVEN casinos that Hoosiers have available to them. We then need to take the data from that study and improve the casinos we have.
By reacting instead of studying, there are things that are left out or not fully talked about…especially when talking about opening more government regulated venues. For example, for two new casinos as well as adding gaming tables to the race tracks, how many more Gaming Enforcement Agents will the state need to hire and train? Will we need to hire more staff for licensing and training for new employees in these casinos? These questions need to be answered before we dive into this issue.
Now, Governor Mike Pence has been against expanded gaming for years and he has publicly come out against this legislation. A measure like this one doesn’t match up with the Governor’s Roadmap. The Roadmap was designed to help Hoosier families grow and succeed. Expanded gaming doesn’t offer that. In fact, it has the potential to pull more families apart than bring them together.
At the end of the day, no one has a really good answer to the question “Why?”. If you can’t offer a decent defense for the reason you have passed legislation, maybe you shouldn’t have passed it at all. Useless legislation is a waste of taxpayer’s time and money. The Indiana State Senate is better than that.