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Online casino bill in Indiana fails to secure a house vote

Indiana betting news

A house committee in Indiana’s representative house has shut down a bill proposing the legalization of online casino gambling in the state.

House Bill 1536, filed by Republican representative, Ethan Manning, met its demise on Tuesday 21, February, after it failed to receive a vote based on the argument that online casino will harm revenue generated by retail casinos.

HB 1536 sought to introduce online casino into Indiana, including iLottery. If the bill had been passed, it would have permitted online poker, the iGaming versions of state’s casino games, the online sale of draw games and scratch off games in the state. In addition, the bill sought to put a 20% tax on generated revenue, with 10% of the tax funds going to the Addiction Services Fund. Under the bill, operators would have had to pay $500,000 as license fee and an annual $50,000 to renew the license.

However, HB 1536 met its waterloo at the committee phase due to a fiscal impact report published by the Indiana Legislative Services Agency that was added to the bill, which noted that legalizing online casinos in the state might lead to the brick-and-mortar casinos bleeding out.

The report based its argument on a 2011 UNLV Gaming and Research Review Journal study which essentially states that online casinos cannibalize retail ones. The ILSA’s fiscal report said: “Studies have concluded that up to 30% of new online gaming revenues are displaced from existing casino revenues. This figure could be higher for a saturated market like Indiana.” Meanwhile, the study has since been disproved by other recent studies that show that online casinos have no impact on land-based casinos.

Sen Jon Ford, a house rep and a longtime supporter of online gambling, reacted to the decision: “I think the fiscal is a joke. It may be one of the worst documents I’ve seen come out of our legislative services. The fiscal analysis on the bill was horrible and made collaboration pretty hard. To use a study from 2011 and not pay attention to the other four or five studies done around the country since then, it appeared to me the fiscal analyst was looking for a study that proved his thought.”

Since the online casino bill failed to get a Public Policy Committee hearing, the bill remains dead till 2024 legislative session. This will be the third time online casino legislation will be failing in Indiana.

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