Gaming bill passes General Assembly, Vigo County voters now decide

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Enrolled House Bill 1015, which contains language naming Vigo County as the destination for a Gary casino license, passed through the Senate and then the House Wednesday night.

Now the action returns to the Wabash Valley, as locals become the main players in the process. 

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Emotions ran high at the Statehouse Wednesday night as legislators watched a landmark gaming bill pass through the General Assembly.

“Watching those names light up red or green is still kind of nervewracking, but what a great night,” said Representative Alan Morrison. 

EHB 1015’s passing shifts the attention of a casino coming to Terre Haute from lawmakers to local voters. 

The bill states that the Indiana Gaming Commission cannot issue a license to Vigo County until the voters of the county approve inland casino gambling through a referendum – a factor co-author Senator Jon Ford says the area is prepared for. 

“People are ready and excited, I think there’s a lot of energy around this, you can’t go to the grocery store without someone talking to you about it,” said Ford. 

Legislators in support of the bill advise voters to look at revenue and job opportunities created in other Indiana communites with casinos. 

“The economic impact will be very substantial, the jobs that it’ll create, the spin-off industries, the tourism impact, and it puts Terre Haute on the map for a whole other reason,” said Morrison. 

Ford says he’s confident of the county’s support, as made evident over the past four months.

“When we first started this three years ago, we had a little interest, next year a little more interest, and this year we’re bringing bus loads of people to come, and to me, it was always win or lose on the issue, our community was coming together, working together, and that’s what we see from other communities in Indiana, and that’s what makes them successful,” said Ford. 

WTWO spoke with Vigo County Clerk Brad Newman on the phone Thursday and he said he hopes to have the referendum included in the General Election ballots in November.  

The public question, according to EHB 1015, will read “Shall inland casino gambling be permitted in Vigo County?” 

EHB 1015 has to be signed by the House Speaker, the Senate President Pro Tem, and the Liutenant Governor before the Governor Holcomb recieves it. Holcomb will then have seven days to sign it.  

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