At first, the market study was flawed, and now the stench of bribery has doomed the 2024 Indiana online casino bill. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Hopes are fading again
Bettors who were hoping an online casino bill in Indiana would see the light of day saw their hopes dwindle once again after state lawmakers said they would not consider any gambling bills in the 2024 Legislature.
The shadow of bribery by a former state legislator
the reason, Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Roderick Bay (R-Martinsville) told Indiana Public Radio (IPB) that this is the shadow of bribery by a former state legislator that “taints the statehouse.”
Former Indiana state Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge Conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
Eberhardt will admit to taking a bribe, a bribe that cuts pretty close to the bone for state lawmakers considering the former lawmaker was caught agreeing to a $350,000 annual salary with Spectacle Entertainment in exchange for supporting a 2019 bill for the casino company.
Public confidence is low
Bray also explained to IPB that the stench left behind by Eberhardt “reduces the confidence of the people and the integrity of the Council of State.” The current Senate President added the legacy of bribery “It causes a lot of problems “It makes it particularly difficult to engage in this kind of politics.”
House Speaker Todd Houston (R-Fishers) agreed with Bray that the mess left behind by the former lawmaker essentially eliminates any online casino legislation in the 2024 session.
Eberhardt is scheduled to plead guilty in November to a federal conspiracy charge filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine.
Eberhart allegedly accepted a lucrative business offer from Spectacle in exchange for his vote and lobbying that allowed the company, since rebranded Lady Luck Gaming, to relocate two casinos in Indiana.
A doomed year
While Indiana was one of the first states to legalize online and retail sports betting in 2019, the online casino bill remains an elusive challenge.
Adding to Eberhardt’s legacy, an online casino bill made its way onto the legislature floor in February thanks to an old market study.
Former Indiana Sen. John Ford at the time called the Indiana Legislative Services Agency’s fiscal impact statement, which said digital casino games could cannibalize up to 30% of retail casino revenue, a “joke.”