A closer look at the SB 552 conference committee

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It’s been several days since the gavel dropped to signify the passing of Senate Bill 552 on the House floor; but the bill’s journey through the legislative process is not quite over. 

Next week, a conference committee consisting of lawmakers from the Senate and the House will meet, not to vote on the bill, but to reconcile the two different versions of SB 552 each chamber passed.

“Conference committee is when we will have the two sides come together and will decide the best parts of each chamber, and hopefully at the end of this road, have a good product, a good bill that is positive for Vigo County and the Wabash Valley,” said Rep. Alan Morrison. 

The committee is made up of one Republican and one Democrat conferee from both chambers, as well as several advisors.

There are lawmakers in favor of SB 552 on the committee, including co-authors Sen. Mark Messmer and Sen. Jon Ford, who have fough for both casino licensing and sports wagering language in the bill.

“I worked extensively with the casino industry and the gaming commission to craft the mechanisms that allow this process to work,” said Messmer. 

“Here in Indiana it’s been reported that we have $300 million in illegal sports wagering, we have over 100 active apps here in Indiana, so what we’ve tried to do with this is lay out a structure that will allow the gaming commission to regulate sports betting,” said Ford. 

There are also committee members opposed to the bill, or at least parts of it.  

“We’re gonna open the door to a casino operator owning every license in the state of Indiana, so I ask for your support in moving this bill forward, but I hope that comes out in conference,” said Rep. Justin Moed. 

“I rise in opposition to the bill, and not because I don’t believe in the casino operators good intentions, I just believe that an investment in the current location like the others invested in their locations would be the fair thing to do,” said Rep. Reardon. 

Once a final version of the “Gaming matters” bill is crafted in committee, both chambers will vote on it and then, if it passes both votes, Gov. Eric Holcomb will see the bill on his desk by the end of session. 

The committee is set to meet on Monday, April 22 at 10 a.m. at the Statehouse.  

There is a referendum included for Vigo County, which means locals can vote for a casino coming to Terre Haute. 

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