A significant sports betting bill ( Senate Bill 552) was approved by the Indiana General Assembly on Monday. With 78-15 votes in favor of the bill, the state is a step closer to legalizing sports betting.
Earlier in March the Indiana Senate had approved a bill to expand gambling infrastructure in the state.
The bill also calls for allowing the Gary Casino to move to a better location from Lake Michigan and granting a new casino license in Terre Haute. Approved by the house the bill will be sent back to the Senate where it is expected to go further amendments.
According to the Senate bill, Spectacle Entertainment which now owns and operates the Gary casinos Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II following an acquisition deal will have to pay a $50 million fee if they are to move the riverboat casinos to an interstate land-based location.
Also, the new relocated casino will have permission to expand the gambling facility from 1,684 gaming positions to 2,764.
Spectacle Entertainment had announced earlier that they are planning to relocate the riverboat casinos and are willing to invest up to $300 million.
While the new legislation allows the company to relocate the casinos, Spectacle will have to surrender the other licenses it holds.
Another significant aspect of the newly approved bill is that it allows for creating a new license for a casino in Vigo County.
The bill entails the procedure of granting the license. It calls for creating a Vigo County advisory board which would then select three operators applying for the permit. The chosen three would be allowed to participate in the competitive bidding process.
According to the current version of the bill, the minimum bid amount is set at $25 million.
Irrespective of the outcome of the riverboat Gary casinos, Spectacle will be allowed to participate in the bidding process of the Terre Haute (Vigo County) casino. The company has already proposed to invest between $100 million to $150 million in the project.
The bill legalizes sports betting in the state; however, the tax rate is 9.5% which is higher than other states who have legalized sports betting.
Mobile sports betting is not included in the bill; hence it is not regulated despite some lawmakers suggesting that it would not serve the purpose if mobile betting is not regulated.
In its current version, the bill allows for sports betting only at licensed casinos, racinos and satellite facilities.