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January 22, 2013

State lawmakers aim to shore up riverboat casinos

Senate committee will take up bill Wednesday

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

The legislation got a cool reception from Rep. Bill Davis, R-Portland, chairman of the House Public Policy Committee, which would likely handle it. He expressed concern about moving casinos from locations endorsed by voters in local referendums.

He also said casino tax revenue doesn’t make up enough of the state budget — only about 4 percent this year — that the General Assembly has to make changes. However, he said, lawmakers do need to be mindful of the thousands of jobs the casinos provide.

“I think we’re going to do it in a way that we don’t see a huge expansion of gaming across our state in an effort to keep competitive and have gaming facilities where we haven’t seen them,” Davis said.

Charbonneau said action is needed because Indiana’s casinos are “under attack” and the prospects for the Lake Michigan casinos will only get worse if Illinois officials allow casinos in Chicago.

“We haven’t even felt any effect from Chicago,” he said. “We have our head in the sand if we don’t think that’s coming.”

Calls to Horseshoe Casino — which has a location in Harrison County — were not returned by press time.

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