Odds bad for land-based Gary casino
Gary’s hopes for a land-based casino may have been dashed Thursday, one month into a four-month legislative session.
Speaking with reporters, Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he is not likely to allow a committee hearing on Senate Bill 41, permitting a Gary inland casino, until Majestic Star comes out of bankruptcy.
“Right now, I just don’t think we’re ready to deal with a land-based casino in Gary because I don’t really think we have a final answer as to who the owners are and what they really want,” Long said.
Without a Senate committee approving legislation, it is all but impossible to get a final vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Majestic Star, the owner of Gary’s two casinos, filed for bankruptcy reorganization in November 2009. Among its largest debts is more than $10 million owed to Gary for economic development purposes.
Gary officials claim Majestic Star also owes some $25 million in unpaid property taxes.
State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, the sponsor of Senate Bill 41, said she spoke with Majestic Star representatives on Wednesday, who told her they’re prepared to explain the company’s financial situation to Long in the hope of winning passage of the land-based legislation.
“Of course, all of these questions could be answered in a committee hearing,” Rogers said.
The Republican-controlled House also has not scheduled a committee hearing for House Bill 1415, a Gary land-based casino measure sponsored by state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, told The Times he does not support land-based gaming.
Long said another reason for the inaction on land-based gaming is “there doesn’t seem to be a lot of support for that this year.”
He said lawmakers are concerned a land-based facility could be Las Vegas-sized and that would be unfair competition to smaller riverboats and casinos located elsewhere in the state.