Indiana considers gambling changes for racinos

Ohio, Illinois and Michigan are all expanding gambling, giving gamblers more options.

Indiana's gambling revenues have been falling and casinos are looking for high stakes help to keep up with the competition. Ohio, Illinois and Michigan are all expanding gambling, giving gamblers more options.

Gaming in Indiana is big business. It may have dropped from third to fourth in the nation in 2012, but it still touts staggering numbers: $500 million in charitable gaming and $2.6 billion in casino gaming.

Neighboring states are now threatening those numbers. Legislation before the Indiana General Assembly is an attempt to curb the threat. It is asking lawmakers to allow the state's two racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville to introduce live tables.

"We are actually taking a robot and replacing it with a live program. It should increase our employment at the casinos by 650 people," said Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville).

The advantage for the two racinos is obvious. This change would give them live tables, something they currently do not have and something that would make them more competitive with the riverboats.

Riverboats, meantime, get the opportunity to expand into land-based operations. They are also asking for free promotional play and for a repeal of the admission tax to be replaced by a wagering tax. While that threatens to actually cost the state money, it also represents a direct threat to the casino in French Lick. Currently over half of its business is generated from Marion County and Louisville. By letting the racinos basically offer the same services, such as live gaming, it puts French Lick at a competitive disadvantage.

On the other hand, Hoosier Park Racing and Casino is going above and beyond to make Anderson a better place to live. It was recently honored as a Distinguished Donor for the Madison County Community Health Center which sees 50,000 Hoosiers annually.

"They have always stepped up to the plate. When there is a need they are there," said Teresa Rodebaugh, Community Health Center.

Now Hoosier Park says there is a need. State lawmakers have to determine who actually ends up paying the price.