Indiana News

Gary Makes Bid To Move Casino Downtown


Gary, IndianaGary says it's willing to give up one of its two casinos if the state will let it move the other one downtown.


Detroit-based Majestic Star owns both Gary riverboats. City officials believe a single casino near the junction of I-65 and I-80/94 would bring in more money than the two lakefront boats combined.

Majestic Star president Don Barden argues the only reason the casinos were confined to the water in the first place was to keep the gambling industry at arm's length. If casino gambling had flopped in Indiana, he says, the boats could have simply shoved off, rather than leaving abandoned buildings in the middle of Hoosier cities.

A legislative study committee is reviewing a gamut of gambling issues, from the Gary license to the tax rates casinos pay.

An inland Gary casino would be the first time legislators have approved a purely land-based casino. French Lick's casino is built around a fig leaf of compliance: the casino sits in a lake where it couldn't set sail if it wanted to.

The bid to move the casino has drawn a diverse alliance of supporters. Gary legislators have pitched the idea as a way to raise money for a teaching hospital, so med students at IU-Northwest don't have to complete their degree in Indianapolis.

Majestic Star says it needs to move inland to compete with Hammond's Horseshoe casino. Barden complains that boat's proximity to Chicago gives it an unfair advantage.

Barden and the city say they'd be willing to surrender the second license in exchange for the move downtown. That's piqued the interest of Fort Wayne, where Mayor Tom Henry has dangled the idea of a casino .Legislators who oppose an expansion of gambling might be more likely to consider transferring an existing license.

» Indiana Casinos Facing Competition From Michigan And Ohio (9-13-09)

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