Gaming May Come Up at Indiana Special Session

by James Platz

Proponents of "pull-tab" machines for the horse racing industry and dockside gaming for riverboat casinos may have renewed hopes in Indiana. Gov. Frank O'Bannon has said he will call lawmakers back for a special session beginning May 14.

During the 2 1/2-month regular session, which adjourned in mid-March, House and Senate members could not agree on legislation to combat a budget deficit of nearly $1 billion by mid-2003.

Legislation that called for 700 pull-tab machines, or video lottery terminals, at both Hoosier Park and Indianapolis Downs, as well as two Marion County off-track locations, passed both chambers. The bill was then sent to a conference committee, where a report was filed but never signed.

In 1993, a special session was called to resolve the state's budget, and ended in the authorization of riverboat gambling. Lawmakers were forced to pass a budget that year; this year, they are not required to take any budget action.