Gaming bill advances through Ways and Means Committee

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The room was filled at the Statehouse as the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing and vote for a bill that revamps gaming in the state. Representative Todd Huston, who proposed an amendment which passed, inserted language in the bill that would specifically bring a gaming license to Terre Haute.

“What we’re doing in the bill is essentially saying there will be a new license created specifically for Vigo County and that the Vigo County license is independent of what actions are taken in Gary,” said Todd Huston, co-chair of House Ways and Means Committee.

This isn’t the only change that was made to the bill. Huston also says a Vigo County Advisory Board must be created which would consist of the mayor, a county commissioner, the president of the Capital Improvement Board, and an appointee by the Chamber of Commerce and governor.

The goal of this board will be to choose the three best gaming operators which would later bid at a minimum of 25 million dollars for the Vigo County gaming license. This is an amendment that senator Jon Ford says gives the community a voice.

“I think it’s a very fair process. It lets the community get involved and let’s the free market take it’s place,” Ford said.

Although his bill has received plenty of change since it’s original form, Ford says he believes lawmakers are taking the right steps toward an effective gaming bill.

“A lot of legislation, as it evolves, people put their fingers on it and change it a little bit. The goal at the end of the day is to put egos aside and come out with a good piece of legislation and I think we’re moving in that direction,” Ford said.

The amended bill also calls for a referendum in Vigo County in either November of this year or May of 2020. It also allows Gary to move their casino inland for a 50 million dollar fee compared to the previous 100 million dollars.

The bill will next move to the full house, a vote is expected next week.

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