Joining a slew of states before it, Indiana is clearing a path to having legalized sports betting in the very near future.
The Indiana State Senate passed legislation last month which could lead to legal sports gambling in the state. If approved by the state House and Gov. Eric Holcomb, Senate Bill 552 would be one of the biggest gaming developments in Indiana history.
After it was approved by the Senate Public Policy Committee, the full Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill. Now it awaits further action in the House. Lawmakers in the lower chamber will now discuss the measure, which will need to be identical to the Senate version in order to come into law.
As it stands now, Senate Bill 552 would legalize sports betting, allow for a Gary casino license to move across the state, remove a cap on the number of in-state casinos a company can own and move up the date when horse racing casinos, or racinos, can use live dealers for table games, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Some of the bill's supporters hesitate to call the proposal an expansion of gaming. That's because other lawmakers have yet to fully get on board with the details of the bill.
Nonetheless, Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma has openly referred to this bill as a “major expansion,” which could cause some challenges as the legislation moves from the State Senate to the House.
"It's difficult to find a place where a large expansion like that can pass. I'm surprised it had passed the Senate," Bosma said, according to the Star report. "If there's a new casino facility, I don't know how anyone can argue that it's not an expansion."
Regardless of the language, a major change remains on the horizon. This law could become the largest gaming-related expansion in Indiana since horse racing casinos were permitted to add slot machines in 2007.
"I don’t see this as an expansion of gaming," said Sen. Eddie Melton in a Star interview, a Democrat from Gary. "I see this as an opportunity to leverage our existing assets."
Still passage is not a sure bet. A provision in the bill to allow one of two Gary-based casino licenses to move to Terre Haute has proven controversial.
While this move could create some room for additional economic development in Gary, the tandem of Gary-based licenses are owned by the same company, which also maintains two riverboat casinos which operate side by side.
Other casino owners could receive the chance to battle it out for the Terre Haute license to break up the current dual owned casinos.
Indiana's bill comes as several other states are progressing toward legal sports betting, including neighboring Kentucky.