Gamblers in Indiana may soon be placing all their wagers in casinos that are land-based rather than on riverboats if the recommendation of a General Assembly gaming study committee is put into effect.
The Hoosier State is currently home to 10 riverboat casinos that still float, but never leave the dock. While the riverboats may be moored, state officials are concerned that revenue derived from the floating casinos may also remain anchored if changes are not made.
We have a situation where the casinos are struggling and we can either sit back and do nothing and watch them continue to decline, or try to help them, just like we would any other industry, become more competitive,” state Rep. Tom Dermody told the Northwest Indiana Times.
Part of that help would come in the form of moving the casinos to dry land in order to better compete with neighboring states. Another issue that was discussed and endorsed by the committee was to offer tax incentives so that the riverboat casinos can either build or refurbish land-based gaming establishments.
Tribal Casino Coming?
The committee’s recommendation may become a proposed bill that is floated before the Indiana legislature in 2015. Indications are that passage of such a proposal may face choppy waters.
Not only is Indiana competing with casinos in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, but the state may soon find its casinos up against a tribal casino in South Bend in coming years. The tribe has the advantage of exclusion from paying state gaming taxes, giving it an upper hand in offering rewards and prizes to gamblers.
“I don’t want to say, ‘The Indians are coming, the Indians are coming.’ But they’re coming,” said state Sen. Jim Arnold. “We have to be prepared.”
Online Gambling Not Yet in Picture
Despite 24 consecutive months of declining revenue at Indiana casinos, legislators do not seem keen on embracing the Internet. The state has plenty of options to legally gamble that include racetracks, the lottery, and charitable gaming events in addition to casinos, but a statute remains prohibiting online gambling.
The Hoosier State may not take positive action on online poker and gambling until a number of other states become involved. Should neighboring states such as Illinois enact igaming regulations, it may prompt Indiana lawmakers into consideration a bit faster than if those regulated states are not geographically nearby.