Indiana: Senator Ford Betting On Gambling Bill

Terre Haute, IN - Last year, a supreme court ruling eliminated a ban on sports gambling. It allows states to create their own laws. Now an Indiana lawmaker is behind an effort to allow sports wagering in the state.

It's a slow night at Wings Etc. in north Terre Haute, but come game day the place is packed.  

"Saturday, we had the Colts playing," Chania Hood said.   

"And we had people waiting a good 30 minutes drinking their drinks out front, but they still wanted a seat because they wanted to watch the game," Tayler Sams said. "So, it was a pretty big day."  

"All the seats were full," Chania Hood said.   

"It was a good 2-and-a-half-hour rush," Tayler Sams said.   

Store manager Thomas Seventy believes business would increase if a proposed new sport gambling bill goes through state legislature.  

"I think it would be a good thing," Thomas Seventy said. "It would give something for people to do when they are here as opposed to just watching the game, they will be a lot more interested in the games and have a lot more invested in the games." 

Last year the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sport gambling across the nation, allowing states to create their own laws about sports wagering.  

Senator John Ford has authored a bill that would do just that in Indiana. 

"We know that there's a large illegal market for sports wagering," State Senator Jon Ford said. "They say as much as 300 million in Indiana. So, for me it's getting it that off the street and getting it into a regulated environment."  

So far Ford says he has seen little opposition.  

He says, in-person and mobile sports gambling are predicted to provide Indiana with hundreds of new jobs and an additional $150 million in annual state tax revenue over the next five years. 

He says that would be good news for Terre Haute, especially if a casino is built. 

"So how the sports wager would work, it would mainly be done at a casino and you have to sign up at a casino in person," Ford said. "So, if Terre Haute were two get a casino then you would be able to go to that casino to sign up to bet on sports."  

The Terre Haute Chamber does not have an opinion about sport gambling, but leaders are in favor of bringing a casino to Terre Haute.  

"Our board decided late last year that we are definitely in support of bringing a casino to Terre Haute and Vigo County and all the economic opportunities that that might provide in our area," Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce Vice President Kristin Craig said.    

Meanwhile, a number of the customers at Wings Etc are excited about the potential boost to the area. 

"Yes absolutely, I think it's a worry with all the stores shutting down we are going to have issues getting jobs in the future I would be fine with that," M.J. Anderson said.  

"I'm really excited to keep this a city where it's the place to get a job, a place to have an education so yeah I would be fine with that," Aubrey Papinchock said.   

WTWO did talk to some residents who were against the idea, but they declined to go on camera. some worry that crime would increase with sports betting or a casino. However, some others are worried they might spend too much money.     

The bill has been introduced will now go to a committee. Then it will go to the senate and house for a vote. 

If the bill becomes law, Ford says legal betting could start as soon as August.

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