Indiana Business Could Suffer if Neighbor States Open Casinos

Indiana business may take a hit if neighboring states vote to allow casino style gambling within their borders, which could make casinos in Indiana to lose big. Up to $250 million dollars of casino tax revenue are at stake, if Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan take steps to implement and expand casinos in their states.

The 13 existing casinos in Indiana that attract customers from these states generatee more than $900 million per year in taxes. But now Kentucky and Ohio are considering opening competing casinos within their state borders.

“Gamblers will seek out casinos most accessible to them,” Jim Landers, an analyst with the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, told the legislative Gaming Study Committee on Monday. “We’re likely to lose significant traffic.”

After Ohio Governor Ted Strickland won the right to include video lottery machines at horse tracks, the state Supreme Court in Ohio ruled that the issue of gambling should be decided by voters. So next month, Ohio residents will vote for or against casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.

Kentucky is pushing similar plans to legalize slot machines or casino-style gambling at horse tracks in their state. And Michigan has proposals to expand the more than 20 tribal casinos in their state.

The Gaming Study Committee is considering all of its options at this point. There are talks of one plan to move a riverboat casino in Lake Michigan closer inland to Gary, Indiana near a major interstate. In addition, they are considering moving funds for one Gary, Indiana casino to another northeastern Indiana city.

When the Indiana State Legislature session begins in January, these ideas and many more will be considered. One Noblesville Republican said, “A better expectation would be there will probably be a lot of findings and that will open it up for a free-for-all when the session starts.”

The Legislative Service Agency found that Horseshoe Southern Indiana outside of Louisville would lose up to 40 percent of its business, and $41 millions in taxes for Indiana if Kentucky opens casinos in Louisville and Lexingtion.

Indiana casinos the Grand Victoria in Rising Sun, Belterra near Vevay and Hollywood in Lawrenceburg would take a substantial hit if Ohio opens casinos in Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati. If these Indiana casinos lose the projected 38 percent of their business, it will cost Hoosiers $86 million dollars in tax revenue.

Even the Casino Aztar in Evansville is not safe if Kentucky follows through with plans to build casinos in Ellis Park.

In the face of possible Indianapolis business disaster the Mayor of Fort Wayne, Tom Henry, is hoping to bring a casino to his Indiana city. Proponents argue the casino would bring jobs and economic vitality to Fort Wayne. While opponents point to the possibility of hirer crime, bankruptcies and more.

Make your voice heard by contacting your state representative. Or sound off here. Tell us what you think about the upcoming changes that Indiana business faces.