Racino owners look to expand gambling options - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Racino owners look to expand gambling options

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Ross Mangamo, Indiana Live (center, at microphone) Ross Mangamo, Indiana Live (center, at microphone)

Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - In an effort to bring more money to Indiana, there may be more games to play at the state's racinos. Lawmakers are considering expanding gaming to help an industry that's seen a slight drop-off during the recession.

Competition is the name of the game when it comes to horse racing and gambling. When two Indiana horse racing tracks wanted to expand into racinos by adding slot machines, both Hoosier Park in Anderson and Indiana Live in Shelbyville ponied up $250 million to stay in the race. Now the owners are back before state lawmakers to say that price was too steep and taxes are too high.

"The term bailout has been used. What I just asked for is no bailout. It is something we should have already had," said Indiana Live CEO Ross Mangamo. He says his business has been penalized by double and triple taxation. Now he wants a tax credit refund and the option to explore expanding into table games.

"There is no financial incentives to make further commitments. We'd love to build a hotel, hire several hundred more people out there, build retail what have you, but financially it doesn't work without some sort of investment tax credit," said Doug Brown, Indiana Live Casino.

Hoosier Park in Anderson is making its case for parity.

"Hoosier Park on an ongoing basis pays 11.8% more of our revenue, almost twelve cents for every dollar in mandatory payments than the average river boat casino with the same revenue level," said Jim Brown, Hoosier Park.

Hoosier Park is arguing for in state parity with riverboat gaming but with seven new racinos going on line in neighboring Ohio competition from outside of Indiana could also take its toll - especially when you consider that two-thirds of the gaming patrons in Indiana are from out of state.

"It's becoming clearer that the revenue model does not work," said Jim Brown.

So two years after allowing two horse tracks to evolve into racinos the state is still faced with the very same dilemma.

"We don't want the tracks to fail. That is the question before us today," said Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville).

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