The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

January 23, 2013

Committee bets on state gambling bill

INDIANAPOLIS — The State Senate Public Policy Committee is all-in on a bill that would shuffle the state’s gambling legislation.

One section of the bill — Senate Bill 528 — would allow Anderson’s Hoosier Park and Shelbyville’s Indiana Grand to add live-dealer table games such as roulette, blackjack, craps and poker, alongside their slot machines.

Wednesday night, the committee endorsed the bill on a 9-0 vote. It still needs to pass through the Appropriations Committee before it comes to a full-vote on the Senate floor.

If the bill becomes law, it could pay off in a big way for Indianapolis-based Centaur Holdings, LLC, which owns Hoosier Park and is working to acquire Indiana Grand and Downs. If that purchase goes through, Centaur would own both the state’s racinos.

Jim Brown, Centaur and Hoosier Park’s president and chief operating officer, testified to the committee Wednesday saying he supported the bill “in its entirety.”

Brown said it “seems kind of silly to have live dealers dealing video cards and video dealers dealing live cards.”

Brown said the two casinos combined could add roughly 600 total dealer jobs, if this goes through.

State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, who co-authored the bill and serves on the committee, said, “a lot of casinos operate around the clock, so that’s probably three shifts.”

“And these are more than minimum-wage jobs. Plus, dealers usually get tips from winners,” he added.

Brown told the committee the average full-time dealer, between wages and tips, makes about $40,000 per year, plus about $15,000 worth in benefits.

Brown estimated the bill could also help Indiana casinos compete against new operations in Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

“We’ve lost business to Toledo, Ohio, since they opened,” he told the committee. “Toledo, Ohio, has live table gaming.”

Among other things, the bill would also remove taxes on free-play gaming coupons, which most states — including Ohio — already do.

That could be pricey for the state, since it would mean about $204 million in lost potential revenue, according to numbers from the Legislative Service Agency.

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook, on Twitter @BayleeNPulliam or call 648-4250.

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