State Sen. Eddie Melton has (D-Gary) introduced a wide-ranging economic development bill for Gary that permits the holder of Gary’s two riverboat licenses to relocate one license to operate an inland casino in the city.
The second Gary license would be sold for the operation of an inland casino at a location more than 100 miles from Gary.
Melton’s measure also allows the Gary Port Authority to establish a multimodal district with a railroad in Buffington Harbor and calls for the city of Gary to establish a community foundation to aid in the formation of a central Gary Community School Corp. campus and career center.
Senate Bill 636 was referred to the Senate appropriations on Tuesday. The Legislative Services Agency did not yet have a fiscal impact analysis of the bill.
Melton, D-Gary, is a minority member of the appropriations committee that’s chaired by state Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen.
Late last year, a newly formed state casino company, Spectacle Entertainment, said it would acquire two Majestic Star riverboat licenses in an undisclosed cash transaction. The transaction still has to be approved by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
The new company said it hoped to move at least one license to a different site in Gary and the second to another unnamed Indiana location.
Such a move would clear the way for Gary to ramp up a higher-industrial profile in Buffington Harbor, one of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s goals.
The bill calls for Gary to negotiate a percentage of the sales price of the second Gary riverboat license to be evenly divided between the city, the Gary Port Authority, and the Gary community foundation. It also requires 20 percent of the adjusted gross receipts of the second license be distributed to the Gary for 20 years.
In addition, the bill:
• Requires the gaming commission to study and make a recommendation for a formula for East Chicago and Hammond to be held harmless from the Gary casino relocating to an inland casino.
• Provides that a member of the board of the port authority may not be a member of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and calls for the Port Authority to have an executive director.
• Requires the community foundation, Ivy Tech Community College, and Gary industries to create a coalition to focus on education and workforce development and implement apprenticeship and workforce development programs.
• It creates the Gary environmental and remediation fund and requires the Port Authority to submit a report to the legislative council concerning a recommended appropriation for the fund and whether a tax incentive is necessary for the fund.