Anderson, Shelbyville fight for expanded gaming

Players at this Blackjack table say they'd prefer live dealers.

With just over two weeks to go in the current legislative session, the cities of Anderson and Shelbyville are putting on a full court press to bring 300 new jobs to each of those communities.

But those jobs come at price that some say the state cannot afford by expanding gaming.

Folks in Shelbyville at Indiana Downs and Hoosier Park in Anderson say it's not a gaming bill. They say it is a jobs bill.

Every chair at a Blackjack table in Anderson is taken, but the players say something is still missing. John Ripperban from Anderson is one of those five.

"I know a lot of times we've talked about going down south to the riverboats because it would be more fun to have a live dealer. A lot of friends don't want to come out because of electronics. It's just us. You get a live dealer and it is more fun. More energetic," he said.

State Senator Tim Lanane from Anderson says competition in every surrounding state is heating up and Indiana casinos and racinos have to meet that challenge.

"You know what you have to do to compete? You have to step up! You have to make your game even a better game and that is what we will do in Anderson and Shelbyville if we are allowed to add 600 jobs to the State of Indiana," he argued.

The Senate has already voted in favor of the transition but the House views it as an expansion of gaming. A House committee even voted to have the racinos pump $10 million a year into auto racing with half of that going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for much-needed renovations.

Republican State Representative Jack Lutz takes issue with that.

"A private industry is supplementing a private industry. It's not fair and it shouldn't be happening," said Lutz.

But these lawmakers, Republican and Democrats alike, say this is not a gaming bill. They say it's a jobs bill.

State Senator Terri Austin, a Democrat from Anderson, argued, "We are facing a lot of challenges in this state. Despite our best efforts, unemployment hovers at 8%. We can make a simple change and put these Hoosiers back to work."

For the Hoosiers bellied up to the blackjack table, it's all about the excitement of a live dealer. Jordan Mynsbarge from Farmland, who is also playing blackjack, underscores the point.

"It heightens your celebration. That is the biggest thing, definitely," said Mynsbarge.

People in Anderson and Shelbyville don't think the expansion argument really makes sense in this case. After all, they already have the games. They are just asking for a live dealer.