Indiana HB 1337 and 1356 are very similar online casino bills, both proposing an 18% tax rate

Indiana Makes The First Move In Online Gambling Legislation For 2022

At the moment, few jurisdictions in North America seem to be in a hurry to legalize online casino gambling. Indiana currently holds front-runner status in the race, though so far in 2022 one can barely call it that.

The Indiana General Assembly has moved forward on not one, but two House bills aimed at adding iGaming to the existing online betting options. In doing so, it has a head start over Illinois, the only other state with active legislation currently. The Illinois bill dates back to last year, when it made it as far as the Executive Committee before going into hibernation.

This month, Indiana representatives introduced a couple of online casino proposals: HB 1337 and HB 1356. Both measures call for an 18% tax rate. The main difference between them regards how much revenue communities containing retail casinos will receive.

So far, it doesn’t look as if the Senate will put forward a competing bill.

In 2020 and 2021, Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, advocated for a bill that would’ve legalized online casinos and online poker. Ford didn’t respond to Online Poker Report‘s questions about iGaming proposals.

On Thursday, Molly Fishell – communications director for the Senate Majority Communications Office – responded to OPR‘s questions for Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, president pro tempore of the Senate.

Fishell told OPR:

“Sen. Bray will take a look at those bills if and when they make it over here.”

BetMGM, iDEA are excited about Indiana

During Wednesday’s conference call about BetMGM‘s progress and future plans, BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt listed Indiana first in his rundown of possible new online casino markets.

Having the CEO at the US online casino market leader mention a state first, plus what he thought was the House bill number, is no small deal. It shows Indiana was front-of-mind for the operator.

That same day, nonprofit iDEA Growth (iDevelopment and Economic Association) sent OPR information about Indiana’s likely yearly revenue. Each year, Indiana iGaming will generate $500 million in new gaming tax revenue, its research found.

iDEA examined HB 1356, the measure introduced by Reps. Douglas Gutwein, R-Francesville, and Ethan Manning, R-Denver. The announcement didn’t mention HB 1337, brought forward by Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Brazil. None of those lawmakers commented for OPR.

If online casino happens, it may be soon

The online gambling industry may find out quickly if their hopes are justified. If last year’s timeline holds, proposed legislation needed to emerge from a committee by mid-February. That, however, was Ford’s bill, which was in the Senate.

OPR‘s sister site PlayIndiana, reported in February 2021:

“A casino industry scandal in Indiana made legislators uncomfortable considering new gaming.

“The Indiana Gaming Commission is investigating Spectacle Entertainment executives over possible improprieties in obtaining approval to build casinos in Gary and Terre Haute.

“A source tells PlayIndiana that Senate President Rodric Bray didn’t want to do a gaming bill with the investigation hanging overhead.”

The Associated Press (AP) published a piece in August 2021 saying Hard Rock International took over Spectacle‘s retail casinos.

AP wrote:

“Hard Rock Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas said the company believed it was important to clear up the ownership troubles and alleviate the concerns of state regulators.”

In the meantime, Hoosiers will be able to bet on the Super Bowl. Indiana legalized online sports betting in October 2019.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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