Category: Riverboat Casinos

Report Recommends Allowing Indiana Riverboat Casinos to Operate on Land

More gambling competition is coming, and if Indiana wants to protect its casino turf, the state should consider several changes, according to a legislative report released Tuesday.
Topping the list: allowing the state’s riverboat casinos to operate on land.
Such an option would enable riverboats to expand or move to a better location to try to maximize profits and compete against newer casinos in neighboring states.
“As in any other industry, particularly those that cater to retail consumers, it’s all about location,” said Sen. Luke Kenley, co-chairman of the Gaming Study Committee that released the report. “We think giving the casinos the ability to go to a better location would increase their volume and the amount of business they can do.”
Helping the casinos maximize profits is in the state’s best interest. That’s because gambling revenue contributes $800 million to the state’s general fund each year and is its third-largest funding source, behind sales and property taxes.
A swelling of competition expected from beyond state lines could jeopardize that revenue.
According to the report, four new casinos approved last month in Ohio are expected to open as soon as 2011 and could cost the state as much as $97 million in tax revenue.
A pair of new American Indian casinos in Michigan could cost the state as much as $15 million more. And if Kentucky approves recent proposals to add gambling to its horse tracks, the state could lose an additional $163 million.
That’s a total of $275 million, or nearly 35 percent of the state’s gambling revenue, that could be at risk.
“We’ve put together a pretty solid industry that actually employs more than 16,000 people in the state of Indiana, and we get $800 million in revenue at the state and $300 million in revenue at the local units. That’s very important to us,” Kenley said. “We need to understand it’s important to keep that viable.”
Rep. Trent VanHaaften, D-Mount Vernon, agreed with Kenley’s assessment.
“Gaming is an industry that generates a lot of revenue to the state and also generates a lot of employment,” he said. “We are getting to a point, hopefully, as a legislature, where we look at gaming as an industry and not something to demagogue.”

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