Lawmakers Fight Indiana Gaming Commission Over Financial Disclosures

Posted on August 20, 2021 - Last Updated on August 19, 2021

A group of Indiana lawmakers is looking to remove a new rule from the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC).

The IGC created the rule to help avoid financial scandals in the state’s gaming industry, but this group of representatives believes that the rule intrudes on privacy rights.

Lawmakers fight Indiana Gaming Commission rule

So what is this rule, and why do some lawmakers have a problem with it?

The rule was a response to the Spectacle Entertainment scandal.

The commission found ties between Spectacle executives and a political money-funneling scheme.

That led to the IGC requesting all Indiana casino owners disclose detailed financial background information.

It hoped these disclosures would help avoid similar corruption cases in the future.

The IGC’s rule created some problems, since some casino owners did not want to disclose their finances.

Specifically, it bogged things down for the state’s Hard Rock casinos. Both casinos had minority owners that were refusing to comply with the rule.

The IGC resolved some of those problems at its recent meeting, but lawmakers are still taking issue with the rule’s existence.

These seven lawmakers objecting to the rule are:

  • Bob Heaton (R-Terre Haute)
  • Terri Austin (D-Anderson)
  • Beau Baird (R-Greencastle)
  • Steve Bartels (R-Eckerty)
  • Michelle Davis (R-Whiteland)
  • Jeff Ellington (R-Bloomington)
  • Alan Morrison (R-Brazil)

The group sent a letter to the IGC voicing various complaints.

It’s arguing that the IGC’s rule should have been subject to “significantly more vetting and scrutiny” before becoming an official policy.

The lawmakers are also concerned that the potential benefits from the rule aren’t worth the trouble that it’s caused among the industry so far.

“We also ask that you reconsider the potential gain of knowing whether a minority stakeholder owns 10 shares of Apple versus the impact of delaying or prohibiting any aspect of the Gary casino project and the construction of the Terre Haute gaming facility, and the potential impact upon both economically depressed communities.”

At this rate, the group’s issues with the rule are going to start spilling over into 2022.

IGC rule could complicate Indiana online casinos

The Spectacle fallout is officially threatening to muck up other parts of Indiana’s gambling industry.

First thing’s first, a handful of casino owners already tried to sue the IGC to remove the rule.

A judge ruled in the commission’s favor, stating that the IGC was well within its power to create and enforce the rule:

 

The lawmakers trying to block the rule would have to get the court’s decision overturned.

Getting past the judge’s decision is one thing, but reworking the rule altogether is another.

The lawmakers are threatening to make the rule an issue during the 2022 General Assembly.

If that happens, Indiana online casinos may be delayed even further.

In a perfect world, Indiana would have legalized online casinos during the 2021 session. Instead, things ended up falling short.

Indiana’s legislative sessions only have so much time, and only a small chunk of that time gets devoted to gambling-related issues.

If the group of lawmakers goes out of its way to make the IGC rule an issue, it could take the legislative spotlight away from online casinos. That would create another hurdle in the push for legalization.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of time before this will start to become a real problem.

The IGC has held strong in its decision so far, and will likely continue doing so going forward.

However, the commission might decide to tweak things in order to avoid future roadblocks in the industry.

For now, both sides are at a standstill. Until the IGC makes a move, the rule will continue to exist in its current form.

In neither side will budge, 2022 could be a disappointing year for Indiana residents hoping to see online casinos in the state.

Photo by Dreamstime
Jake Garza Avatar
Written by
Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a sports writer based in Indianapolis, IN. He's an Indiana University graduate who's spent time as a sports reporter covering teams at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.

View all posts by Jake Garza