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Sports betting passed through its second legislative chamber in Indiana, though it’s going to take overtime to get the bill right.
Following a flurry of minor changes made on the House floor Thursday, bill sponsor Sen. Jon Ford told Legal Sports Report that he expected a House vote to approve S 552 today, which needed to happen for the bill not to die.
The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence, which Ford assures it will not get, setting up a conference committee to work out the differences between the bills as passed by the Senate and the House.
Ford told LSR earlier this week that he would lead an effort to get mobile wagering back in the Indiana sports betting bill, either on the House floor or in a conference committee. It didn’t happen on the House floor.
House Public Policy Committee Chairman Ben Smaltz stripped online betting from the Senate bill despite hearing from stakeholders that a mobile option was needed to capture the black market.
Ford said that adding mobile back into the IN sports betting bill will be his priority during the conference committee.
Representatives brought up 10 amendments on the House floor Thursday, with six passing. All six have to do with the movement of two Gary riverboat casinos, one inland in the same region and the other to Terre Haute in Vigo County.
There was an amendment related to Indiana sports betting that didn’t pass. Pushed by Rep. Cherrish Pryor, whose district is in Indianapolis where the NCAA is headquartered, Amendment 25 would have diverted some of the state tax revenue from sports wagering to cover health insurance for collegiate athletes in the state who aren’t covered through a parent or guardian.
Ford indicated that he believes a conference committee will start Wednesday or Thursday of next week.
Ten members each from the Senate and House participate in a conference committee, but the ultimate decision is made by four lawmakers: one Republican and one Democrat for each chamber.
Ford, who will be an adviser on the committee, expects the four legislators tasked to sign off on an agreement to be: Sen. Mark Messmer (R), his co-sponsor on the Indiana sports betting bill, Sen. Eddie Melton (D), who represents Gary, Rep. Todd Huston (R), chair of the Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Earl Harris Jr (D).
Although the Indiana legislative session is scheduled to end April 29, multiple legislators have told LSR that they expect it to end by April 25, as the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits begins that day in Indianapolis.
Ford predicts that the discussion on S 552 will go down to the wire.
“It depends on the appetite of folks to negotiate,” Ford said. “I think this will be the second-to-last bill we pass this session. It will be this, then the budget. It will probably go right up until midnight or so on April 25 unless things go better than I think.”