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Bill to Permit Dockside Gaming in Indiana Advances

23 January 2001

Jason Ader, senior gaming analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co., reported that a bill to permit dockside gaming in Indiana passed the state's House Ways and Means Committee yesterday by one vote when a legislator changed his mind at the last minute. The bill now moves to the full House.

Ader said in his report that the close vote reflects sharp divisions among state legislators over the question of whether Indiana's casino boats should still be required to cruise. They've lost some business to neighboring Illinois, which ended the cruising requirement for its boats in 1999.

Indiana already has the country's highest gaming taxes. This bill would increase them, to a maximum of 40 percent of adjusting gaming revenue. It would also increase the admissions tax.

In addition, the bill would permit one company to hold two gaming licenses. This could have important implications for potential mergers and acquisitions in the industry.

Ader also reported that the unusually cold weather in December had an impact on gaming revenue in Indiana. For casinos open more than a year, the total revenue for December declined 2.5 percent, to $122.9 million, from the previous December.

Three of the state's larger casino operators – Argosy in Lawrenceburg, Caesars in Harrison County and Harrah's in East Chicago, gained business last month. The smaller operators – the Grand Victoria in Rising Sun, Aztar in Evansville and the Majestic Star and Trump Indiana in Gary -- did less business in December 2000 than in December 1999.

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