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Regulators of gambling are mainly silent on legislative hit



Indianapolis, Indiana – Regulators of gaming in Indiana dismissed worries on Thursday on the impact of a last-minute, targeted legislative adjustment to the agency’s budget and casino fines.

“As with any law passed by the General Assembly, the (Indiana Gaming Commission) will work to fully comply with the provisions …” spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said.

“Does not anticipate any negative impact upon agency operations as a result of the bill,” the commission noted.

Republicans in the statehouse completed legislation this month that gives lawmakers more control over the agency’s requests for increased funding. As things stand, the executive branch has the authority to approve an augmentation, or higher expenditure authorization, without the need for parliamentary approval.

However, starting in July, Senate Enrolled Act 256 will prevent any source, including the State Budget Agency, from increasing that agency’s budget without the consent of the State Budget Committee. The state budget director and the four voting lawmakers comprise this body, which convenes every sixty days on average.

Additionally, the legislation transfers casino penalties and penalty funds from the agency to the state’s coffers.

Sen. Chris Garten, a Republican from Charlestown, has spearheaded initiatives to tighten regulations on the agency after voicing his complaints in the interim. He contends that the organization regulates casinos in a too harsh and aggressive manner.

However, detractors claimed the modifications might hinder regulators’ work at the same time as a former congressman is about to go to jail for his role in a bribery scandal involving casinos.
Gambling for charity bounces back.

The epidemic inflicted a severe hit to charitable gambling, causing small organizations to struggle and gross receipts to plummet from $433 million in 2019 to $326 million in 2021.

“Everything dropped down. At that time we didn’t know if charity gaming was going to come back,” Charity Gaming Division Director Mark Mason said at the commission’s Thursday meeting. He said organizations were struggling to get volunteers.

But philanthropic gaming has returned and is performing better than ever.

“Rumors of our deaths are greatly exaggerated,” Mason said.

Last year’s charitable gambling receipts exceeded pre-pandemic figures and reached a record high since at least 2016.

According to the meeting’s slides, 2023’s gross income was approximately $475 million. Of the total amount, the groups retained almost $110 million after awarding rewards totaling nearly $364 million. Some of their earnings are also given to other charitable organizations.

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