Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Stepping Down After 6 Years

The person who led the Indiana Gaming Commission during its implementation of sports betting is heading out.

Gov. Eric Holcomb last week announced that Sara Gonso Tait is “stepping away from her role” as executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission “to explore opportunities in the private sector.”

Gonso Tait will leave the post on Sept. 10, to be replaced by Greg Small, currently the commission’s general counsel.

“As executive director, Sara demonstrated a strategic vision for the Indiana Gaming Commission that delivered strong results in economic development while maintaining the highest level of integrity,” Holcomb said in a statement. “Her leadership and innovation has made a positive impact on the state of Indiana that will continue beyond her time at the Indiana Gaming Commission.”

Gonso Tait has been with the agency since 2015. Since she took over, three retail casinos have opened.

“I leave the Indiana Gaming Commission having accomplished significant goals and confident that my tenure served the agency, industry and state well,” she said. “This role has been more than I hoped for and being the executive director has been a privilege and honor. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am truly appreciative of Governor Holcomb and his office for the incredible support, trust and opportunity to grow.”

The Indy Star highlighted the fact that Gonso Tait is leaving following a high-stakes investigation into a local casino developer. “I am absolutely leaving on my own terms,” Gonso Tait told the newspaper Friday.

Gonso Tait’s replacement has served as the general counsel for the commission since August 2015. Prior to that, Small was the assistant city attorney for the city of Bloomington.

For gamblers, nothing notable should change with Gonso Tait’s departure.

Sports betting under Gonso Tait

Overseeing the launch of online sports wagering as part of Indiana’s gambling expansion will be remembered as a highlight of Gonso Tait’s tenure. Indiana was an early adopter after the mid-2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to license and regulate the industry.

The state legislature in 2019 passed the law that included sports betting. Gonso Tait and her staff were then tasked with crafting regulations and implementing the law through licensing operators.

Gonso Tait authorized and approved a dozen online sportsbooks to launch in the Hoosier State. Since sports betting began in the fall of 2019, Indiana sportsbooks have taken $4,075,149,245 in wagers, according to state data compiled by Sports Handle.

Indiana has raked in $31,777,368 in taxes off that betting activity.

Indiana lawmakers have so far just flirted with online casino gambling. Future legislative sessions are likely to feature increased chatter about allowing the online sportsbooks to also offer casino games such as blackjack and slots. Neighboring Michigan allows online casino.

Small, the new executive director, could be tasked with implementing an online casino law during his tenure.