The idea of smalltown Terre Haute being the next recipient of a brick and mortar casino was one that got a lot of people excited. Unfortunately, it did not excite enough voting members of the Indiana Senate, as a bill that would have allowed the casino to exist died this week.
The news came as a surprise to most seeing as the plan was not even close to controversial. Most Terre Haute residents would have welcomed a brick and mortar gambling establishment, and local lawmakers salivated at the idea of millions of dollars in tax revenue streaming in out of thin air. Now, the plans have been thrown out and proponents of a Terre Haute casino will have to start again from square one.
After a few weeks of discussion, a Senate committee decided this week that it would finally put the Terre Haute casino measure up for a vote. When the dust settled, the committee was locked in a tie, with 5 people voting in favor of the gaming establishment and 5 people voting against it. While this might seem like a good thing, the bill was killed due to the fact that the head of the committee, Republican Ron Alting, voted against the measure. In the event of a tie, his vote, for all intents and purposes, counts for 2.
The bill that was just killed would not have created a new casino, per se. Instead, it would have allowed Rising Star Casino, which is located in Indiana’s Southeast, to open up a supplemental location in Terre Haute. As part of the bill, the casino would literally have to move tables and machines from their preexistent location to the new site; no new machines would be purchased.
The real opposition to this bill did not come from everyday citizens, but other brick and mortar casinos. Those gambling locations situated near Terre Haute put a lot of effort into explaining how a new casino in Terre Haute would not only hurt their bottom lines, but the bottom line of the city in which they were located. This is something that struck a cord with Senators, as none of them wanted to be responsible for voting in favor a measure that would actively hurt other cities financially.
Tropicana Evansville’s general manager commented on the prospect of a Terre Haute casino by saying, “It would definitely affect our business in Evansville. Any loss of revenue not only impacts the revenue of the casino, but it also affects the revenue of the city.”
Finally, the nail in the coffin was the fact that the Terre Haute casino would not have to pay taxes like other locations. Because it would just be a supplement to a preexistent location, the taxation the casino would be subjected to is nothing like what it would be if it were a standalone location. Though we expect efforts to establish a Terre Haute gambling location to continue, it is unclear how much success these efforts will be met with.