Indiana Online Casino Efforts Hampered By Politicians’ Gambling Misconduct

Posted on May 10, 2024

As Indiana considers adding online casinos to its gambling menu, those efforts are being hampered by gambling-related misconduct by political figures in the state.

That fact was highlighted recently when a man in Vigo County sought the county treasurer’s seat. Billy Joy’s decade-old illegal gambling conviction came to light just before his May 7 primary, which he lost.

Multiple betting-related corruption cases in Indiana are not the only reason lawmakers have been reluctant to legalize online casinos. But they certainly are a significant factor.

Gambling-related Scandals Damage Integrity of General Assembly

Several bills have been introduced in the General Assembly over the last few years to legalize Indiana online casinos. None of the legislation has gained traction. The latest effort, House Bill 1536, did not make it out of committee in 2023.

During a presentation to investors and analysts last December, BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt expressed discontent at the glacial pace in moving iG legislation forward in several states, including Indiana.

Gambling-related scandals involving politicians in the Hoosier State have soured lawmakers on even considering online casinos, Senate President Rodric Bray said last year.

“It diminishes the confidence that people have in the integrity of the statehouse. It causes an awful lot of problems, and it makes it particularly difficult to engage in that kind of policy.”

Joy Incident Just Latest Involving Political Figures in Indiana

Even though Joy’s conviction for illegal gambling dated back more than a decade, anonymous letters to local media prior to the spring primary in Vito County sunk his campaign. He collected just over 31% of the vote last week.

According to reporting by WTHI-TV, the Indiana Gaming Commission began investigating Joy in 2011 over organizing illegal poker games at a sports bar in West Terre Haute. Police later arrested Joy on charges of corrupt business influence, money laundering, and professional gambling.

Joy ultimately pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of professional gambling, which was later reduced to a Class “A” misdemeanor.

Last November, former state Sen. Sean Eberhart pled guilty to charges of bribery involving a casino company. The conviction came after Eberhart had served 16 years in the Indiana General Assembly. He has yet to be sentenced.

In 2022, former state Sen. Brent Waltz pled guilty to receiving illegal campaign contributions from a casino operator.

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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a contributor for PlayIndiana with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She’s a die-hard women’s basketball fanatic and founded the website as a result of that passion.

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