Bill paves way for casino-funds transparency

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The Indiana House of Representatives approved a bill that will reveal spending by entities that receive local economic development money through casino agreements.

Lawmakers had attempted to pass a gaming-money transparency law for several years, but it gained momentum when both Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Ernest Yelton supported the bill.

The House approved S.B. 325 87-0.

The Senate earlier passed the bill 43-7.

Its House sponsors are Jud McMillin, R-Brookville; and Bill Davis, R-Portland. The authors are Sens. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City; Mike Delph, R-Carmel; Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn; and Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond.

The state funnels millions of dollars collected by Indiana casinos into many nonprofit entities and a few for-profit entities that are supposed to spend the money for local economic development projects.

The cry for transparency began after the attorney general’s office became involved in trying to get a for-profit entity, Lake County-based Second Century, to open its books for public inspection into how the company spent casino money it received.

In question is $16 million earmarked for economic development that Second Century received over 10 years.

HSPA supported S.B. 325, testifying in its favor during both its hearings before the House and Senate Public Policy Committees.

Last year, Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, authored similar legislation in S.B. 405. The bill required entities receiving casino gaming funds to report financial information to the Indiana attorney general.

That bill passed in the Senate 33-17 but later was changed to require entities to report use of their casino money to the Indiana Gaming Commission. S.B. 405 died when its House sponsor, Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, withdrew it during a floor fight concerning other aspects of the gaming bill.