Indiana VGT Measure Void of Restaurant Participation

Indiana Video Gaming Terminals

A new VGT bill in Indiana would allow the games in veterans’ clubs but not restaurants in the state.

Finding new revenue sources seems to be the goal of states in 2021. Last year, every state in the US was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses closed temporarily and some never opened back up. Revenues are short for everyone, including individual states. Lawmakers are now trying to find new and affordable ways to bring changes to their states that will bring in revenues. For many, the topic of consideration is gambling. In Indiana, a lawmaker recently introduced legislation involving video gaming terminals (VGTs). However, the legislation only allows veterans’ clubs to offer services and voids restaurants from participating.

Details of the Measure

Senator Sue Glick, a republican, has decided to introduce Senate Bill 267. This measure would allow the clubs to offer the gaming machines so that the organizations can earn back lost revenues during the pandemic. The bill would change current gambling laws to authorize any congressionally charted veterans’ service organizations to offer the games.

To offer VGTs, the organizations would need to pay a $150 application fee. The permit would have to be renewed every three years. For manufacturers and distributors of VGTs, payments need to be made to the state to cover services. A $25,000 fee is required upfront along with a renewable fee of $10,000.

There would be no tax on the gaming revenue that the veterans’ groups make. The profits would have to be split with the operator’s distributor and manufacturer. The max wager of such games would be capped at $2.  The most a player could win is $599. Any organization offering such gaming would only be allowed to house five terminals or less.

Restaurants Want In

While the measure seems like a nice way to help veterans’ organizations, restaurant owners are wondering why they were left out. Bars and restaurants have also struggled this year due to the pandemic. Many have closed or are operating at a lower capacity due to state restrictions, continually losing money.

Once the bill was announced, the state’s Licensed Beverage Association came out in response, asking lawmakers to allow restaurants to offer the service as well. The association feels that the state needs to act as its neighbor Illinois and allow the gaming machines to provide a new source of income for bars and restaurants.

ILBA President Brad Klopfenstein commented that the state’s bars and restaurants need help. With the VGTs, some business owners would be able to earn $100,000 a year from the games. The ILBA would like to see the VGTs approved in counties of the state that do not have land-based casinos.

Klopfenstein also pointed out that the state and county budgets are going to come in less than before due to business slow down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The VGTs would help everyone in the state.

Why the restaurants and bars were left out of the equation is anyone’s guess. The VGTs added to the restaurants and bars would mean far more revenues for the state than what the veterans’ associations. The small fees paid by the associations and those involved in the industry would not be nearly enough to help bring in what is needed to boost the state budget.

There is no doubt that restaurants, bars, and the IBLA will continue to push for the opportunity to be involved in VGT gaming. Will lawmakers add them to the measure? Or will the option to add VGTs to the state be done away with?

Only time will tell what will happen regarding VGTs in Indiana. We will continue to stay tuned to see if the state ends up adding this new gambling option to its offerings.

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