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Silvia Pavlof November 24, 2023 3 min read
Indiana Legislators Close Door on Gaming Bills Amidst Corruption Fallout
Former Shelbyville Representative Eberhart admitted to taking a bribe from Spectacle Gaming, directly tied to his backing of a 2019 gaming bill benefiting the company
Indiana lawmakers have decided to forgo any consideration of new gaming bills during the upcoming 2024 legislative session. The announcement, made by House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, comes as a response to the recent guilty plea to federal corruption charges by former state legislator Sean Eberhart.
Former Shelbyville Representative’s Bribery Confession Unveils Ties to Gaming Bill Favoritism
Eberhart, a former Representative from Shelbyville, confessed to accepting a bribe from Spectacle Gaming, involving the promise of a lucrative six-figure job. This revelation was directly linked to his support for a gaming bill in 2019 that notably favored Spectacle Gaming.
Eberhart served as the representative for Indiana House District 57, encompassing Shelby County and portions of Hancock and Bartholomew counties. His tenure in this position spanned 16 years, concluding in November of 2022 when he resigned.
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, underscoring the gravity of the situation, conveyed that there should be no anticipation of gaming legislation in 2024, reported West Lafayette media outlet WBAA. Both Bray and House Speaker Todd Huston concurred that the fallout from Eberhart’s corruption case had cast a dark shadow over any prospects of advancing gaming-related legislation in the upcoming session.
The impact of Eberhart’s guilty plea extends beyond the immediate legislative calendar. Bray voiced apprehensions regarding the enduring repercussions, mentioning that the situation casts a shadow over the Statehouse, erodes public confidence in its integrity, and creates significant challenges in pursuing such policies.
Fallout from Corruption Scandal Hinders Gaming Legislation
The fallout raises questions about the overall trustworthiness of the Statehouse, and lawmakers are keenly aware of the need to address these issues before considering any new gaming bills. The corruption scandal has effectively derailed the gaming industry’s efforts to push for the legalization of online casino gambling in recent years.
Despite these setbacks, the gaming landscape in Indiana has witnessed some positive developments. Sports wagering became legal in September 2019, with Governor Eric Holcomb signing a statewide regulated sports betting bill into law just over a year after the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA. The state has seen substantial growth in this sector, with a September sports wagering handle from its 12 land-based casinos reaching nearly $404.2 million.
Additionally, Indiana is set to welcome a new casino in March 2024, further expanding its current roster of 12 casino locations. The Terre Haute Casino Resort is anticipated to contribute to the state’s thriving gaming industry despite the recent setback in legislative considerations.