Last Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence vetoed a bill that would have seen the legalization of online betting on horseracing events in the Hoosier State. Although Governor Pence did not sign the two other gambling bills sent to his desk for enactment, the legislation allowing the state’s riverboat casino operators to establish land-based facility and the amendments to some regulations of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission will become state laws after seven days, even without the governor’s signature.
The vetoed bill embodies legislation that would have permitted Indiana residents to place wagering money in advance by depositing funds in a betting account, and to be used exclusively for pari-mutuel betting. Termed as Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW), the disposition of the betting funds will be transacted via the Internet or by communicating through a phone. The state governor asserts that the state currently does not permit ADW; enacting a law that would lift the ban on ADW, contradicts his long time opposition to expanded gambling within the state.
The governor remarked that even in the early stages of the legislative proceedings, he made it clear that he has no intention of blocking reforms that would enable the state’s gambling businesses to stay competitive with the gambling industry of neighboring states, for as long as gambling reforms do not constitute gambling expansion. In light of such views, the state governor opined that the proposed legislation for Internet-based horserace betting expands gambling within the state.
On the other hand, the riverboat casino bill that the governor did not sign or veto, will allow operators of Indiana’s ten (10) riverboat casinos, five (5) on Lake Michigan and another five (5) on Ohio River, to build land casinos on estates near their respective existing landing.
The other piece of legislation not vetoed nor signed by Governor Pence grants permission to the Indiana Horse Racing Commission (IHRC) to utilize money coming from the breed development fund, in promoting the state’s horse racing industry. The bill also contained provision authorizing the increase of per diem currently received by members of the IHRC. The bill likewise contained provisions formally recognizing as laws the current standards for racing days previously established by the state’s racing commission.
The Indiana governor commented that the two measures met his own set of standards for the state, which is why he did not veto the bill that enjoyed the popular support of state legislators.
As an aside, local news reports carried by Indiana’s local media disclosed that the vetoed online horserace-betting bill originally included as proposal, the offering of live dealer casino games at the Anderson and Shelbyville racetrack casinos. The proposal was later removed as the governor had clearly stated beforehand that he would definitely not support legislation that will permit live dealer casino right away.
Indiana’s casino industry has been experiencing erosion in recent years, faced with increasing competitions coming from the nearby states of Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, and resulting to massive loss of jobs. Yet the governor has no desire to see the expansion of gambling activities in Indiana. Unless the state’s legislators unite in order to come up with a solid vote to thwart the governor’s veto, horserace-betting remains confined within the four betting shops and two horse tracks in Indiana.