Indiana lawmakers may take a break from gambling expansion bills

Legislators may take a break from gambling bills in the upcoming session.

In the last two years, Indiana has legalized sports betting, allowed live dealers at the racetrack casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville, and authorized a new casino in Terre Haute. Some legislators suggest Internet wagering should be next. But Anderson Representative Terri Austin warns gaming interests may have “worn out their welcome” with legislators already uneasy about expanding gambling. She compares it to the years of battles over alcohol sales, which at one point prompted leaders to announce at the start of the session they’d refuse to hear any alcohol bills that year.

Austin says legislators don’t fully understand how Internet gambling works. The Casino Association of Indiana ran a “sports betting college” to explain how sportsbooks operate before Indiana legalized it last year. Austin says unless legislators want to just punt the issue to the Indiana Gaming Commission, they might need something similar before they’re comfortable tackling the web.

And while legislators generally prefer to discuss complex issues in odd-numbered years, when the session is six weeks longer, Austin says the likelihood of pandemic-related disruptions means 2021 is likely to have the feel of a short session. The Senate has already capped how many bills each senator can file. The House has that rule even in non-pandemic years.


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