Nov 21, 2023 - News

Gaming investigation casts pall over upcoming Indiana legislative session

Bray, left, and House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, addressed reporters yesterday. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Don't bet on Indiana lawmakers passing any gaming bills in the upcoming legislative session that begins in early January.

Driving the news: Former state Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, agreed to plead guilty earlier this month to honest services fraud for his role in helping Spectacle Entertainment obtain the licenses for and relocate two casinos.

  • Eberhart was promised a job with the company — and an annual salary of at least $350,000 — in exchange for using his position at the Statehouse to advocate for legislation favorable to Spectacle, according to prosecutors.

The intrigue: Part of Eberhart's plea includes an admission that he conspired with others, and court documents reveal that some of the evidence against him included covert "audio and video recordings."

Between the lines: The specter that more charges loom hangs over the Statehouse as lawmakers convene this afternoon for Organization Day, the ceremonial start to the session.

  • Plus: Longtime Statehouse watchers at Hannah News Service suggested in a recent Gaming Insight newsletter that others close to the investigation could still be wired as the investigation continues.

Flashback: Last year, lawmakers had been expected to consider a bill to legalize online gambling, like poker and blackjack, and online lottery, but the legislation never even got a hearing.

What they're saying: "It makes gaming really hard to engage in when you have problems like that," Bray said. "It taints the Statehouse. It diminishes the confidence that people have in the integrity of the Statehouse. It causes an awful lot of problems and it makes it particularly difficult to engage in that kind of policy."

The bottom line: Bray and House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said they don't expect to see any gaming bills moving this session.

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