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Indiana Gaming Facilities Faces Stiff Competition from Neighboring States

Indiana's casino facilities are facing an increasing amount of gaming competition from gaming ventures in the states of Michigan and Ohio that could pose a serious threat to the $900 million in tax revenue the gaming industry produces for the state. The state of Ohio plans to introduce a total of 17,500 slot machines at the state's 7 horse racing tracks by the middle of 2010-including racing tracks in Toledo and Cincinnati.

Michigan continues to add tribal casino facilities, with more than twenty now in operation. Revenues for the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, a town located on Indiana's lakeshore, dropped by thirty percent after the opening of a tribal casino facility in southern Michigan. The gaming competition from the two states spells danger to the nearly $900 million a year in tax revenue Indiana receives from casino gaming.

Mike Smith, the president of the Casino Association of Indiana, said on September 13th, 2009 that there is a big possibility that the state could wake up one day and discover that $300 million of their gaming revenue is gone. Smith said that he thinks that it is only appropriate that they possess the tools that will allow them to compete effectively with other gaming entities.

A report made by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency stated that Indiana's gaming revenue was up for the year, unlike elsewhere in the US, because of the casinos at racing tracks near Indianapolis in Shelbyville and Anderson. A gaming analyst for the Legislative Services Agency stated that the track casinos displaced a total of $110 million in revenue that otherwise would have been used at the riverboats of the state.

Riverboat gaming produced a total of $766 million in taxes in the previous fiscal year while track casino facilities brought in an additional $126.6 million. There is also a resort casino in French Lick, which is about one hundred miles south of Indianapolis.

Ernest Yelton, the executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, said that most gaming observers believe that at least in Indiana, the gaming market is over saturated. But that has not affected talks of expanding or moving one of the existing riverboat casino facilities to Fort Wayne, about one hundred miles northeast of Indianapolis near the border of the state of Ohio.

A professor of public administration of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Bill Thompson, sees a casino facility in Fort Wayne as a defensive strategy. Thompson said that state officials have to be mindful that the state of Ohio is ready to open casino facilities in Toledo and the Battle Creek casino facility is reaching into Indiana.

Thompson said that Fort Wayne is a defensive decision to keep gaming money from going to the states of Ohio and Michigan. However, some individuals state that could continue a pattern away from out-of-state gamers coming into the state of Indiana to Hoosiers gambling their own cash at home.

Rep. Win Moses, (Democrat-Fort Wayne) said that they would end up with more Hoosiers gaming and that is a vital consideration. He said that it is not going to be like in Las Vegas where they go in and spend their discretionary money.


09/17/2009 22:20 PM


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