If Terre Haute lands a casino, it is clear that it will come from relocating an existing gaming license from elsewhere in Indiana.
It is also clear that its operator will have to share some of the proceeds. Just how much may depend on where the license comes from.
Legislation filed by state Sens. John Ford, R-Terre Haute, and Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, calls for $3 million of revenue from a Terre Haute casino to be sent each year to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for preservation of the historic hotel at West Baden, part of the French Lick casino resort.
That would be the case whether the license is moved from Gary or Rising Sun, the two most likely scenarios based on announcements from gaming interests.
But if the Terre Haute casino is relocated from Gary, another measure calls for 20 percent of adjusted gross receipts be sent there each year for 20 years.
That legislation, Senate Bill 636, is authored by Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, and contains a number of provisions aimed at helping revitalize that city.
Rachel Leslie of RJL Solutions, who is advocating for a Terre Haute casino on behalf of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, did not respond to email and phone messages Thursday. Leslie is partners in RJL with Greg Gibson, who is a prospective part owner of a Terre Haute casino.
Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight, said, “Anything that takes money away makes something less attractive, but keeping 80 percent of something that didn’t exist before is better than nothing.”
But Feigenbaum said it is too soon to get hung up on particular provisions of any bill.
“Everything is negotiable,” he said. “You throw in all kinds of stuff at the beginning and kind of see what sticks. Everything there is a bargaining chip.”
Both bills are considered omnibus legislation because of the number of their widespread impact and, as with any legislation in the early weeks of the General Assembly session, should be considered works in progress, Feigenbaum said.
If the provisions stay, legislation passes and Terre Haute does land a casino, there appears to be plenty of potential profits to share.
While no current estimates have been provided, data is available from 2017 when legislation was first proposed for a satellite gaming operation in Vigo County.
Full House Resorts, which sought to move some gaming stations from its casino in Rising Sun and is still seeking such a move, projected annual revenue at $100 million. The Indiana Legislative Services Agency, which provides financial analysis of legislation, projected revenue of between $75 million and $85 million.
Senate Bill 552 is pending before the Senate Public Policy Committee while SB 636 is assigned to the Appropriations Committee. Neither is yet scheduled for a hearing.