Indiana Casinos Ask for Help as Revenue Continues to Drop

Indiana_sealDeclining revenues are sinking Indiana’s casinos, and the industry is now appealing to the state to throw them a lifeline.

“The past several years have been quite different (with) declining revenues, lost jobs and competition,” was how Jim Brown, the CEO of two Racinos in Indiana, Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand, summed it up according to Fox59 in Indiana.

Brown went on to say, “The state must provide the industry with the tools it need to survive and succeed.” Rising Star Casino general manager Steven Jimenez echoed Brown’s comments, saying, “All we’re looking for are all the tools to compete.”

What the Indiana casino industry seems to mean by “tools” are less of a tax burden, state funded renovations, and expanded gaming options, judging by the written ideas they sent to the statehouse.

 

The decline of gaming in Indiana

Indiana’s 13 casinos (a combination of Casinos, Racinos and Riverboats) have seen revenue sharply declining in the past several years as more competition continues to encroach on Indiana’s borders.

The larger resort-style casinos with more amenities in neighboring states have had little trouble in luring Indiana residents to their properties, while at the same time insuring their own residents gamble in-state, and Indiana’s gaming revenue bears this out.

Here are the total tax revenue figures over the past six years:

  • 2008 total tax revenue: $448,164,737
  • 2009 total tax revenue: $450,056,451
  • 2010 total tax revenue: $449,301,167
  • 2011 total tax revenue: $426,939,112
  • 2012 total tax revenue: $399,358,567
  • 2013 total tax revenue: $333,714,738

After maintaining yearly tax revenue of $450 million from 2008-2010 the industry has undergone three years of progressively worse losses, and 2014 has seen that trend continue. Through July, Indiana casinos have only amassed $70,769,998 in total tax revenue.

These trends are the reason for the state Public Policy Committee’s recent hearing where the casino operators pleaded for help and submitted their own ideas on how to turn things around.

The Public Policy Committee will once again get together on October 8th, where they are expected to offer potential solutions that could be introduced during the 2015 legislative session.

Online gambling expansion still unlikely

When they reconvene on October 8th, don’t expect online gambling to be one of the proposals.

In May, Bluff.com detailed all the reasons why Indiana and its faltering brick & mortar casino industry should consider online gambling, but there was one major obstacle In place, and that obstacle isn’t going anywhere anytime soon: Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Pence, a staunch supporter of Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to ban online gambling (Pence penned a letter to the state legislature earlier this year asking them to support the proposed federal ban) is well liked in Indiana (for a politician) and is a clear favorite to win a reelection campaign in 2016.

Considering Indiana law does not impose term limits on the Governorship, Pence could be in office for a very long time, unless of course he decides to run for President in 2016, as he is being floated as one of the potential dark horse Republican candidates.

As it currently stands, the only glimmer of hope for online poker in Indiana before 2020 would be a Pence presidential run.

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