Monday, April 23, 2007

Racinos?

Adding slots to the two Indiana race tracks is a hot issue for the current Indiana General Assembly. Proponents see the extra revenue as an opportunity to provide higher purse money and in turn more competitive and quality horses. Those against the expansion see the adding of slots at both Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs as a further expansion of gambling. The Star has even framed the issue as whether the Governor will allow Indiana's first land based casinos.

I hate to break it to the Star but we already have a land based casino. It is in French Lick. The developer of that casino built a moat and a non-navigable "boat" as the casino. The boat at French Lick is a land based casino with a contained flooding problem.

The cost to the two tracks for the right to put in the slots was initially set by the current House at 100 million. Then the Senate cut down the number of slots licensed by a thousand and increased the fee to 400 million. Apparently the casino lobby came to town and made sure that the possibility of competition for the gambling dollar ended by placing it out of realistic reach of the tracks.

I am not objective on the subject. My father is a horse breeder and trainer. I go to several races a year and it is my opinion that the slots are a needed source of revenue. The purses for the races need to be increased to make the tracks more competitive with our neighboring states all of which allow horse racing.

Is it an expansion of gambling? Absolutely. But the reality is gambling in Indiana is an industry. Gambling in Indiana is a very big industry. If it is an industry then why not allow it to be competitive? To be competitive with its neighboring states the horse tracks need other sources of revenue. The State would benefit greatly from the extra tax revenue provided.

You can decry gambling all you want but the General Assembly made a decision in the eighties to allow it. It has done much good in the areas where the casinos and the tracks are located. It has brought in much tax revenue that has benefited many Hoosiers. There will eventually be a limit to gambling expansion (do you really want to see slot machines at your corner grocery store?) but I don't see slots at the tracks as so shocking to the conscience to stop its approval. Give them the slots, take them off the subsidy the tracks now receive, and use the added sources of revenue for much needed property tax relief or scholarships for our deserving students.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"land based casino with a contained flooding problem" - that's classic!

I agree with your assessment, but I'm a libertarian, so I'm always going to believe people have the right to engage in these types of activities...

May 01, 2007  
Blogger Sam Hasler said...

I only have two gripes with legalized gambling. It allows our legislator to be extremely lazy or careless when it comes to tax policy. They can avoid a serious look at Indiana's tax system. More specifically, Anderson ought to be coming up with some better ideas on economic development.

May 06, 2007  

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