More Changes Made to Indiana Slots Legislation

Indiana senators continue to shape and mold legislation that would allow up to 1,500 slot machines at the state’s two racetracks.

Legislation approved by the House was amended once again during its second reading March 26 with language added to define racing-dates requirements and the allocation of purses and breed development money. The bill is slated for a third reading as early as March 27, when the full Senate will determine its fate.

The bill as passed by the House called for a minimum 160 live racing days (60 Thoroughbred) at any track with slots. The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee passed the measure March 20, but cut the required days to 140 programs (50 Thoroughbred).

The March 26 amendments kept the minimum dates at each track to 140 but increased the number of Thoroughbred programs to 60 at both Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs. In addition, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission cannot increase the minimum dates to more than 160 live programs (70 Thoroughbred).

In previous versions of the bill, 15% of slots revenue has been allocated for purses and breed development. With the latest amendments, the distribution of the money is further defined.

Thoroughbred and Standardbred programs each receive an equal share of 46% once money for equine welfare and promotion (0.5%) and benevolence (2.5%) have been paid. Quarter Horses will receive the remaining 8%. Of the share to be distributed to Thoroughbreds, nearly 60% will go to purses, with 40% for breed development.

Other changes include licensing fees being directed to the state’s general fund. Previously, $200 million of the $400 million each track would pay for a slots license was to be allocated for property tax relief, while the remaining $600 million was earmarked for an Indiana Life Sciences Fund to promote university research.

A 2% county slots wagering fee also was added. The fee, to be paid to Madison and Shelby counties, is not to exceed $5 million a year. The bill also permits Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs to operate slots in temporary facilities for up to 24 months while permanent facilities are under construction.