Indiana: VGT, Online Casino Bills to be Discussed in 2021

Indiana State Senate will have a busy start of 2021 pending the discussion of the online casino bill, as well as the introduction of VTGs inside of bars and restaurants.

Measures to Boost the Gambling Industry and Small Business Owners

Indiana’s General Assembly will discuss two important legislations during its first legislative session in 2021, which runs between January and April. The proposed legislations include the introduction of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) inside of bars and restaurants, as well as the launch of online casinos in the state.

Senator Jon Ford introduced his interactive gaming bill in the Indiana Senate on Monday. The document seeks to legalize internet gaming in Indiana in an effort to boost the sector, which was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ford’s bill authorizes internet casino games and online poker in Indiana’s 14 casinos and racinos, including the planned Rocksino, which is due to open in Terre Haute in 2022. Online poker was left out of the first draft for the bill in October, as Senator Ford considered it would complicate the process. However, after consultation with colleagues and people in the Indiana gaming industry, he decided to include it.

Online casinos in Indiana are the next step following the launch of sports betting in the state in 2019.

Online Gambling: A Source of State Revenue Without Tax Increase

If the bill gets approved, it could bring between $65 and $80 million in annual tax revenue to the state without increasing taxes. It will also help casinos, which suffered huge losses in 2020 and are still operating at 50% capacity and under tight restrictions, Ford says.

According to the latest figures by Indiana Gaming Commission, in the 2020 fiscal year, the casino’s state-wide total win (AGR) was down by $523.7 million, a 74.9% slump year-over-year dragging wagering tax down by $142.3 million or 27.0%.

Under the new legislation, casinos and racinos will pay $500,000 for an interactive gaming license, renewable annually for $50,000. Each casino will be allowed to cooperate with up to three online brands, or skins. The initial license will cost $100,000 and will be renewable annually for $25,000.

Gambling activity in the Hoosier state might also be expanded by allowing VGTs inside of bars and restaurants. Recently, The Indiana Licensed Beverage Association pushed for approving the legislation saying that it is a potential source of revenue for everyone involved.

The VGT bill proposes that the tax money from VGTs go directly to the county that the machine is in rather than the state as a whole. The revenue would be split a third between the operator, a third between the location and a third between the county government, according to Brad Klopenstein, the president of the association.

The expected revenue is not big – about $100,000 per location per year, so the bill might be overshadowed by the online casino legislation.

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