Indiana Business Groups Propose VGTs at Bars, Bowling Alleys, and Truck Stops

January 8, 2021

Business groups in Indiana have joined hands to push for the legalization of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) in truck stops and bars around the nation. According to the proposition, installing gaming terminals could generate up to $165 million in revenue every year, helping the local and federal governments fund infrastructural projects and open job opportunities across the state.

The Video Gaming Terminal Coalition created a video highlighting the details of the proposal. And the proposed venues include truck stops, bars, taverns, bowling alleys, and amusement machine operators. The machines would be capped at $2 wager per play and payouts not exceeding $599.

The VGTs are to be installed in pre-specified areas and only accessed by players 21-years and older. The licensed locations would also have voucher redemption zones for the players to cash out their winnings.

The proposition is waiting for the Indiana General Assembly to commence its 2021 session, which is scheduled for January 11 through April 29. Unfortunately, according to the legislature’s website, no lawmaker has prefilled a bill to legalize the petition yet.

Taking A Look at Illinois for Inspiration

Supporters of the petition believe the state authorities only need to look across the border to Illinois, which has already seen VGT’s improve local communities and create employment opportunities. The producers interviewed J&J Ventures Gaming’s Bob Willenborg, who stated Illinois’ decision to install VGTs at selected public places was perhaps “one of the biggest small business decisions” taken by the authorities.

Furthermore, Bob cited a survey from the industry that claimed the gaming expansion created and saved over 25,000 jobs in Illinois. According to the law, select businesses in Illinois are allowed to host up to five machines per location and the licensed vendors are in charge of operations and upkeep.

Illinois-based J&J Ventures Gaming is a licensed operator in Illinois and Pennsylvania. The firm also has coin-operated amusement games like darts, pool tables, and jukeboxes in Indiana and Kentucky. And according to the official report on the operator’s Indiana page, establishments in Illinois are earning up to $80,000 annually through VGTs.

VGTs vs. Casinos

People supporting VGTs claim the terminals would offer a financial benefit to the local counties that are in favor of the decision. At the time of writing, 11 counties with casinos in Indiana are entitled to that kind of perks. In addition to direct monetary benefits, the proposal will also attract new clientele to bars and local businesses.

This isn’t the only proposal lawmakers in Indianapolis are expected to discuss when the session goes live later this month. Casino operators are trying to push for a regulated iGaming industry, which would allow them to cater to a whole new audience base. Currently, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania allow mobile casino gaming. While Michigan just passed a law allowing iGaming. Online casinos are expected to pop up in the state later this month.

iGaming in Indiana is projected to follow in the heels of mobile sports betting, which has been massively successful. As major sporting leagues resumed in the summer following a brief shutdown due to COVID-19, sportsbooks in the state have been reporting a steady growth. The Indiana Gaming Commission, in November, reported $251.4 million in total sports wagers and mobile apps account for over 85% of the amount.

Legalizing iGaming in Indiana would not only allow punters to wager on the move but open a new revenue stream for sportsbooks and operators. This serves as a much-needed respite for the state’s licensed casino operators, which lost millions in revenue during the three-month COVID-19 lockdown.

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