Say move would generate new tax revenues for the state

Proponents of moving one of Gary's two casinos on Lake Michigan to a land-based location made their case to lawmakers Monday, the Chicago Tribunereported.

Gary’s two riverboat casinos, the Majestic Star I and II, now sit next to each other on a Lake Michigan harbor. Their revenues have declined in recent years, in part because of major upgrades at other Lake Michigan casinos in Indiana and a tribal casino in lower Michigan.

The casinos' owner, Don Barden - along with many Gary lawmakers and city officials -want to move one of the casino licenses and build a new facility on a site in the city near the intersection of Interstate 65 and two other freeways. Barden also wants to sell the other license to a company that would locate a casino in northeastern Indiana in or near Fort Wayne.

“We are not asking for any special favors. What we are looking for is a common sense move,” Gary Mayor Rudy Clay told an interim legislative study committee on gambling issues.

Barden has said moving both casinos to new locations would generate $40 million to $50 million in new tax revenue for Indiana and help the Indiana casino industry weather gambling expansions in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

However, a lobbyist for Ameristar, which owns a Lake County casino in East Chicago, saying such a move would be “definitely changing the rules in the middle of the game.”