Lawmakers Consider Plan to Expand Casinos

The likely gatekeeper for bills to help Indiana‘s casinos hasn‘t said what he‘ll do with those bills. But he‘s indicating sympathy with two of the most prominent proposals.

House Public Policy Chairman Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte) notes the fate of any casino bill will hinge on whether it expands gambling, since Governor Pence, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) have all vowed to oppose any measure that does.

But the definition of “expansion” is murky. Pence has declined to spell out publicly where he draws the line. At a conference this month, Dermody sided with casino owners‘ arguments that two proposals at the heart of the debate aren‘t expansions. Racetrack casinos in Anderson and Shelby County have pressed to replace computerized versions of table games like blackjack and craps with live dealers. And Gary‘s Majestic Star Casinos want legislators to let them move their Lake Michigan properties inland.

Dermody chaired a summer study committee which endorsed both those steps. Majestic Star has dialed back its longstanding plea for a downtown Gary location — it‘s now seeking to reorient its harborfront property to move the casino off the lake onto land.