State not owning up to expanding gambling

Today’s semantics quiz: If your state has become dependent on the tax revenue from casino gambling, but you want your constituents to think you’re opposed to an expansion of gambling, what do you do?

Well, it’s simple. You let gambling expand, but you say that gambling isn’t expanding. Pay no attention to that little man behind the curtain.

So now the Tropicana casino in Evansville has announced a $50 million plan to move from its riverboat spot to an adjacent site, becoming the state’s first land-based casino.

Until now, the state’s 11 casinos have had to be on the river, on pretend boats that don’t go anywhere. They have long sought bigger and better land-based facilities as one way to compete with all the new gambling operations that have sprung up in surrounding states.

There was always doubt about such a change becoming law, because Gov. Mike Pence always has said he strongly opposes any expansion of gambling. But now the law has been changed. How did that happen?

Well, Gov. Pence did not, in fact, sign the bill. But he didn’t veto it either, which means it became law without his signature. It’s called trying to have your cake and eat it, too.

Pence told the Northwest Indiana Times he recognizes the importance of gaming to the economies of many Indiana communities and the contributions of gaming tax revenue to the state budget, and believes the provisions of the measure are not an “expansion” of gaming, which he opposes.

“From early in the legislative process, I made it clear that I would not stand in the way of reforms that would allow these businesses to remain competitive with surrounding states so long as it did not constitute an expansion of gaming in Indiana,” Pence said. “HEA 1540 … meet(s) this standard and, as such, I will permit (it) to become law without signature.”

Excuse us, governor, but why do the casinos want to move? Isn’t it to get more customers who will spend more money? Why is that OK with the state? Because the state will get more in tax revenue. More gamblers. More money spent. More tax revenue raised. “More” is the key word here, governor.

We don’t know if you’re kidding yourself or trying to fool us, but that’s an expansion of gambling, plain and simple.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.