More gambling on the way for Hoosiers


(Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel

If you think Indiana headed for the moral dumpster the first time it authorized charities to raise money through Bingo, then you’re really not going to like this: Neither Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Holcomb nor Democratic candidate John Gregg sound strongly opposed to gambling on principle.

“Hoosiers should have the freedom to spend their own money, but at the same time we as a state have to balance not wanting our government to be so dependent on something that can fluctuate in good times and bad,” Holcomb says.

Gregg says the gambling industry creates jobs and generates revenues for the state, and he is open to changes sought by the industry to remain competitive.

Indiana struggles every year, The Associated Press notes, with how to give Indiana’s casinos more flexibility but avoid the notion of expanding gambling. This was most recently played out over whether casinos at horse tracks could have live table dealers. Such efforts have failed in the past, but with a lack of condemnation, supporters are likely to redouble their efforts.

So will advocates of legalized video gambling, who are meeting in Indianapolis to devise a “legislative strategy.” The group, which calls itself the Video Game Coalition, is seeking legislative sponsors.

The Evansville Courier-Press reports that the group is made up of trade organizations representing amusement and music operators, licensed beverage dealers and bowling centers. It advocates electronic terminals in places such as bars and truck stops that allow patrons to gamble on poker, blackjack or other games. They are currently only allowed in casinos.

Backers say revenue raised could fund infrastructure improvements. They say Illinois’ legalization of video gambling has contributed to a downturn in Indiana casino revenue.

Indiana legislators are conservative enough that we’re not going to see gambling devices in every corner of every building any time soon. But they opened the door by creating the Hoosier Lottery and getting in bed with casinos. The truth is that the state is already dependent on the revenues it gets from gambling.

And the more competition there is, both from operations in surrounding states and new forms of gambling that are authorized in this state, the more the state will have to push us to gamble often and recklessly. It left the moral high ground on this issue a long time ago.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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