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Bill for VGTs on the House Floor in Indiana

January 27, 2023

For over two years, residents in Indiana have had the right to legally place retail and online/mobile sports bets from the comforts of home. As one of the top six or seven sports betting states in terms of handle and revenue, the people of Indiana have clearly embraced sports betting.

While sports bettors are enjoying the access, Indiana's casino players have been disappointed. Though several attempts to legalize online casino play have been introduced, all of them have failed. Sooner or later, this issue is going to come to a boiling point as more U.S. states start looking at the tax revenue prospects from online casino gambling.

Introduction of VGTs Might Be a Step in the Right Direction

For a while now, Illinois residents have had legal access to Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs). These terminals allow retail gambling to play video poker and blackjack from terminals generally located in small businesses like restaurants and bars. These VGTS have been a boon in terms of tax revenue for the state, bringing in taxes at a rate of 34% of gross revenue. As a point of reference, the Illinois tax collector grabbed over $67 million in December 2022 from about 45K machines.

These numbers have certainly drawn the attention of legislators in neighboring Indiana. So much so that HB 1548 has been just introduced on the Indiana House Floor. The bill seeks to give Indiana residents the same kind of VGT access, though operators would only be subject to a 30% tax rate.

Some online gambling advocates see the introduction of this new bill as a step in the right direction. Why? At the present time, there is also an online casino gambling bill on the House Floor. That would be HB 1536, which was introduced late last year by Representative Ethan Manning. The bill aims to legalize both online casino gambling and online lottery ticket purchasing for the state's residents.

While both bills are trying to get through committees, Manning is encouraged that online casino gambling may soon be available. He cites the fact that in his new role as Chairman of Public Policy, one important barrier has been removed. Still, he makes clear there are lots of hurdles that need to be cleared. He told a reporter with PlayUSA:

“It certainly still is a challenge. We have some members who just don’t like gaming, period, and others who just need to learn about the issue. But as I’ve been having informal conversations with members of my caucus and on the Senate side as well, nobody has told me no yet. So they’ll probably tell me no later, but we will see how things go.”

There is another reason for optimism. As the online sports betting market matures, Indiana residents have clearly embraced the concept of online gambling. They want online casino gambling because they are no longer concerned about the possible evils of online gambling.

The opponents of online casino gambling seem to be the state's retail casinos that don't want to see their entertainment revenue being savaged.


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