Officials refocus discussion surrounding Senate Bill 552

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Senate Bill 552 or the “Gaming Matters” bill, could potentially revamp the gaming industry in Indiana. Two of the cities that would be significantly impacted are both Gary, which could move its casino, and Terre Haute, which would receive a new gaming license.

“In Terre Haute, we’re looking at a 150 million dollar investment, about 500 construction jobs, and three to four hundred employees with this new casino,” said Mayor Duke Bennett, Terre Haute.
 
“There will be more jobs created, there will be a new 300 million dollar development. We expect significant halo development as a result of the move,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary.

Although the impact that this bill can have, Karen-Wilson says, the discussion has been focused too much on the facility itself.

“So often people can focus on the shiny object in the room and in this case its certainly casinos,” Karen-Wilson said.

Bennett and Freeman-Wilson say they want people to think about what this bill can not only do for individual communities but the state of Indiana as a whole.

“In Terre Haute, we serve about 600,000 people in our MSA. So people are coming over from Illinois. They come for retail, to go to the doctor, whatever it may be, and this casino is going to be a huge part of the draw to west-central Indiana and the whole state will benefit from it,” Bennett said.

Representative Tonya Pfaff who was chosen as an advisor for the Conference Committee says Gary and Terre Haute leadership coming together to support this bill is positive heading into the next steps.

“Any time that you have a community rally behind something, it absolutely makes a difference,” Pfaff said.

Mayor Bennett also says he has seen pros and cons from some of the amendments made to the gaming bill, but he says he does support creating the right legislation.

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