INDIANAPOLIS - Lawmakers approved a proposal late Sunday, April 29 to allow slot machines at Indiana's two horse race tracks - a move that would funnel more than $500 million toward property tax relief for homeowners, according to the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.
It is Indiana's biggest expansion of gambling since the Legislature authorized riverboat casinos in 1993, but lawmakers also approved another bill to crack down on illegal gambling found elsewhere.
That proposal also would step up enforcement against illegal video gambling machines sometimes found in back rooms of bars, gas stations, truck stops and other locations. Some lawmakers say the two bills together could result in an overall decrease in gambling - something Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he supports.
This is not the way the United Methodist-supported Indiana Coalition Against Legalized Gambling sees the situation. "It's just a slide into further and further dependency upon gambling," the Rev. Lorin Clemenz, coordinator of ICALG and retired NIC UM pastor, told The Indianapolis Star.
Under the slots bill, the pari-mutuel race tracks in Anderson and Shelbyville could each pay a $250 million licensing fee to install up to 2,000 slot machines. The legislation would impose a graduated slot machine receipts each year, 30 percent on the second $100 million and a 35 percent tax on revenues exceeding that amount. Both the fees and the tax money would be directed to property tax relief.
According to the Howey Political Report, Daniels called the slots bill, "the best option available and I will sign it." He said he had three conditions for a slots bill to pass: that every cent be returned to taxpayers, that there be a net reduction in gambling statewide, and that the state gets "reasonable value" for the slot machines placed at horse tracks.
"Given the incredible priority of property tax relief, to get us past the trending impact, this was the best available option," Daniels said.
Since his campaign, Daniels has said publicly that he opposed the expansion of legalized gambling in Indiana.