Indiana, like much of the Midwestern United States, has plenty of gambling options for citizens and tourists alike. Casinos do exist in Indiana, however they are a bit different from casinos you might find in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Regardless of this, the gambling experience is unexpectedly high quality.
When people think of Indiana there is often not all that much that comes to mind. The state itself is relatively flat and barren compared to states like California and Florida. As such, tourism is not a huge draw. Thanks to the growing casino industry, however, this is something that is slowly but surely changing.
Blue Chip Casino
French Lick Casino Resort
Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg
Horseshoe Southern Indiana
Indiana Grand Casino
Majestic Star II
Rising Star Casino Resort
As was mentioned previously, there is only one type of gambling that can take place in Indiana, and that is riverboat gambling. Initially, this type of casino gambling was only able to happen so long as the boat was on a body of water and in motion. Since then, state laws have changed such that riverboats need not be in motion to offer casino games. Most of them are docked nowadays.
In Indiana, riverboat gambling is able to be found in the far South on the Ohio River as well as the far North on Lake Michigan. Of the 13 casinos in Indiana, 10 of them are of the riverboat variety.
Racinos are labelled as such due to their existence at horse and dog race tracks. In Indiana, racinos are able to offer betting on horse and dog racing as well as slot games. The addition of slot games is a somewhat new venture as the state expands legal casino-style gambling.
There is only one traditional, land-based casino located in the state of Indiana. The story behind this casino (French Lick Resort Casino) is interesting because it was originally intended to be a riverboat casino. Before French Lick opened for business, it was intended to be a riverboat casino as it was to be situated in the middle of a man-made pond. The legal situation surrounding French Lick in particular shifted in a hurry, and the need to create a pond no longer existed. It still stands as the only land-based casino in the state.
The casino history of Indiana extends back to the mid-1800s when the newly drafted state constitution explicitly banned a state lottery. Though the constitution itself only made mention of lotteries and nothing else, it was widely believed that this really meant that all forms of gambling were illegal.
Flash forward more than 100 years to 1988. At this time, the longstanding ban on lotteries was lifted thanks to an amendment to the state’s constitution. Shortly after the amendment was made, the Mayor of Gary, Indiana—an economically depressed town due to the departure of manufacturing—introduced a bill to the state’s General Assembly that would allow for a casino to be built in the city. The bill did not make it very far and was shot down, but shortly thereafter a referendum was held which showed that more than 60% of Gary residents supported the idea of bringing casinos to the city.
A second pro-casino bill was introduced to lawmakers in 1990, but a Republican-dominated state government shot this bill down as well. Over the course of the next three years, no less than 3 new bills were introduced to state lawmakers only to eventually be shot down and thrown out.
Thanks to the state of Indiana delving into a budget crisis in 1993, a special session of the state’s General Assembly was held in June of that year. Despite the raising of taxes seeming like the only way by which the state of Indiana would be able to claw its way out of the ongoing budget crisis, Republicans wanted nothing to do with that. As a compromise, Republicans were able to refrain from raising taxes so long as they met certain Democratic demands; which included an expansion of casino-gambling. Because of the compromise, Indiana was able to host 5 riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan as well as 5 more on the Ohio River. Another casino was licensed and was supposed to be docked on Patoka Lake, but a license transfer ensured that the casino was eventually built in French Lick.
In 2007, state law was changed once more and allowed for slot machines to exist at horse and dog racetracks. This took the total number of official casinos up to 13 from 11. What it also did was open up the central part of the state to gambling. Before this measure was approved, the only casino gambling that one could partake in in Indiana was either on Lake Michigan or the Ohio River, which are located at the Northernmost and Southernmost parts of the state. Despite Indiana not necessarily being considered a gambling mecca, it holds its own and is becoming more accepting to casinos as the years move forward.