INDIANAPOLIS - Under legislation passed by the Indiana House last week, more than 7,000 bars, taverns and restaurants across the state would be allowed to offer the pull tabs and other forms of low-stakes gambling (Indianapolis Star). The bill now moves to the Senate, where it already has received support from some key lawmakers. This marks the second consecutive year that state legislators have considered proposals that would expand gambling in Indiana.

Last year, they voted to allow slot machines at the state's two horse tracks. Some legislators argue that expansion was offset by another bill under which 16 law enforcement officers were hired to crack down on illegal electronic gambling machines commonly found in bars across the state. As a result, many of those machines, known as Cherry Masters, have been removed from Hoosier taverns. But to help appease those upset by the crackdown on Cherry Masters, lawmakers decided in 2007 that they would allow American Legions and other nonprofit organizations to offer pull tabs and other paper games. And now, Indiana's bars want the same treatment.

"We're behind this because we think it's a fairness issue," said Brad Klopfenstein, executive director of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association. "They created a disparity between the not-for-profits and the for-profits. We want to even that out."

Rep. Brian Bosma, for one, doesn't. The Indianapolis Republican, who serves as the House minority leader, said Indiana has become too addicted to gambling and the revenue it generates. "I feel gaming in this state is the crack cocaine of public policy. We simply can't get enough gaming," said Bosma, who voted against HB 1153. "I'm saying, 'No.' I want off the cocaine. I'm done with it."

- Howey Politics Indiana

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