Indiana Regulators Green-Light Live Dealer Tables At Racinos

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Gaming Commission held its last meeting of 2019 on Tuesday afternoon in Indianapolis, touching on some facets of the robust gaming expansion law that was passed earlier this year.

The roughly 90-minute meeting included approvals for Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand to launch their respective live dealer table games on Jan. 1, 2020. Harrah’s Hoosier Park will kick off with 28 tables, while Indiana Grand will have 43. Both racinos come from Las Vegas-based casino giant Caesars. The new tables will join 671 other gaming tables statewide, according to state figures. Thirteen facilities in the state will have live dealer table games after the racinos launch their respective offerings.

Like sports wagering, the live dealer table games were authorized by state policymakers in order to keep Indiana competitive with gaming expansion in neighboring states. Additionally, the racinos will create a combined 530 new jobs with the addition of the tables.

The 2019 gaming expansion bill effectively accelerated the timing of table game operations at the racinos. The new law expedited the authority of the IGC to grant permission to conduct table games at the racinos from the last quarter of FY 2021 to Jan. 1, 2020.

IGC Executive Director Sara Tait commended Caesars for its work on the plan to implement the live dealer table games as authorized under law. She said that there were no hiccups in the process, and praised the racinos for a job “well done.” According to testimony, the racinos may still tweak their table game plans in the lead-up to Jan. 1, but they are effectively greenlit right now.

Hard Rock coming

The second major item on the agenda pertained to the project that will see one of the Majestic Star riverboat casinos move onto land and become Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana. Indiana-based Spectacle Entertainment partnered with Hard Rock International to bring a casino to downtown Gary, not far from the lucrative Chicago gambler pool.

Representatives from Hard Rock were in attendance to give the IGC an update on the project and tout its credentials as a national casino operator.

According to Hard Rock, the Gary casino will look about the same as Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento. The Hoosier State property will include more than 1,600 slots and 80 tables.

The Gary property is projected to open sometime between December 2020 and April 2021. The Majestic Star casino will close about a month before the opening date. Spectacle is required to give up the gaming license for the other Majestic Star gambling den, which will result in a new casino in west central Indiana, pending a bidding process from multiple interested parties.

Hard Rock said it will employ about 1,200 people at the new Gary casino.

Sports betting

Indiana’s legal sports wagering industry kicked off on Sept. 1, with online/mobile launches following in October. Though sports betting wasn’t a primary topic on Tuesday during the IGC hearing, it was on the mind of state officials. The meeting closed with the regulatory body remarking briefly about the success so far with the new activity and how it was a successful fourth quarter for the agency.

Indiana recently reported an overall sports gambling handle of $147.3 mm during November, a 60.6% increase from October’s $91.7 mm.

The IGC did approve a new resolution that will allow Executive Director Tait to expedite the process of issuing renewals for sports wagering to companies involved in the industry, once that becomes necessary. Unlike some other state gaming regulatory bodies, the IGC doesn’t meet every month and that is the reasoning behind the tweak.

The state still only has three online/mobile sportsbooks in operation, with more in the pipeline. It appears the IGC is done for the calendar year giving green lights for mobile books to launch.

The New Year will start off with a bang for Indiana gaming thanks to the live dealer table games, and additional online/mobile launches should follow in the proceeding weeks and months.