01/22/2013 1:57PM

Indiana senate expected to vote on expanded gambling at racetracks

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A bill that would allow Indiana’s racetracks to add casino-style games to their slot-machine operations is expected to be called for a vote in a state senate committee on Wednesday.

The provision allowing for expanded gambling at the casinos at Indiana Downs and Hoosier Park is part of a larger gambling bill that would also allow the state’s 11 “riverboat” casinos to build facilities on land. Supporters of the bill have cited increased competition from casinos and slots parlors in Ohio for the measures.

Taxes on casino gambling currently provide approximately 5 percent of the budget in Indiana, according to the Indianapolis Star, along with hundreds of millions of dollars of support annually to local municipalities. Receipts from gambling declined last year, however, by 4.2 percent, the Star said.

Indiana Downs and Hoosier Park both built casinos in the past three years after the legislature authorized slot machines at the tracks. A decade earlier, the state had legalized riverboat casinos, but those casinos are currently moored at 11 locations, almost all on the state’s borders with Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.

The bill would allow riverboat casino owners to move the casinos to dry land as long as the land is already owned by the company.

Hoosier Park is owned by Centaur Gaming, which last year reached a deal to buy Indiana Downs. The deal is near to being finalized.