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Citing the competition of neighboring states in the race for gambling dollars, Gov. Holcomb signed the measure during a cloud of controversy.
“By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers,” the Governor said in a statement.
“Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs – both permanent and in construction,” Holcomb continued.
“I will direct the Indiana Gaming Commission to monitor for potential effects of this bill so that we can make necessary changes in future legislative sessions.”
The wide-ranging bill introduces online gambling to the state for the first time and, in an unprecedented and controversial move, moves a casino license from the water to land.
Critics argue that Spectacle’s lobbying and shady payments contributed to the huge tax credit the company will receive under the new law.
In the bill, Spectacle Entertainment is going to be allowed to move a waterfront casino to another more lucrative site on land.
Spectacle will move their casino location from Gary to a more trafficked area for $20 million in licensing fees to be paid to the state.
The casino move came under scrutiny for the company’s financial ties to several high ranking state legislators including Gov. Holcomb.
Spectacle paid more than $50,000 for Gov. Holcomb to fly twice to Republican Governor Association meetings.
In the bill, Spectacle will have to forfeit a second casino license in exchange for tax relief that experts claim will save the company millions each year.
The bill is highlighted by the opportunity for Indiana residents and visitors to play online games and wager on sports through a mobile app.
In what is perhaps, the most interesting aspect of online betting in the bill is that Indiana won’t require bettors to register and open an account at a casino.
The wide open stance on online gaming comes as a surprise as mobile app betting was initially removed in committee in early April.
However, the mobile amendment found its way into the bill 48 hours before the measure cleared the Indiana House.
Rep. Ben Smaltz, head of the committee in charge of the betting bill, vetoed mobile betting from the legislation.
But once it had returned to the bill without his consent, he was noticeably upset with his fellow lawmakers.
“This is a monumental policy shift, and this is the beginning. I’m not excited about having sports wagering in my community anywhere,” Rep. Smaltz said.
But Gov. Holcomb eventually overlooked the complaints of Representatives like Mr. Smaltz and signed the legislation.
Other details in the bill include allowing residents to bet on college games, and no fee will be paid to the pro sports leagues for official data or for an integrity fee.
The sports betting bill will also charge operators a reasonable tax rate of 9.5% on revenue to be paid to Indiana.
Finally, the Indiana Gaming Commission will oversee and regulate all sports betting activity and all taxed revenue will enter the state’s general fund.
Indiana is the second state this year to legalize sports betting after Montana’s governor signed a bill allowing single-game wagering via the state’s lottery system last week.
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