On the final day of the 2019 legislative session, the long anticipated gaming bill was approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. This proposal makes possible the movement of one of Gary’s casino licenses out of Buffington Harbor to a more optimal location on I-80/94. This also allows for the development of a huge project that will truly transform the city of Gary, Northwest Indiana as well as provide benefits to the entire state.
State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) has worked on this legislation for nearly two years and gave the following remarks on the bill’s passage:
“I know it’s not easy trying to balance all of the interests and concerns of the communities and various stakeholders, so I commend Senator Messmer for his efforts on this bill, especially his ability to incorporate language to protect the communities with existing casinos.
“This piece of legislation is multifaceted and while some may see this as simply a gaming bill, it’s not just a simple gaming bill for me or the citizens of Gary and Northwest Indiana. It is an economic development catalyst that will create 400 new gaming and hospitality jobs through the construction of a new casino and hotel on I-80/94.
“This has been a project that my predecessor, former State Senator Earline Rogers, has been working on for 20 years and to stand in the legislature, where she once stood, and be a part of this is extremely moving.
“I can see the halo effect that could result from this legislation from jobs to economic growth in our city. I see this as an opportunity to grow our tax base. I see public safety improvement occurring in Gary. I see improvements to our schools and I see us being able to address our infrastructure.
“We didn’t ask for a handout and we didn’t ask for money. We asked for policy changes that can help us pivot our city so we can maximize our opportunities. The intermodal component of this project will be transformational and I’m looking forward to working with Senator Mishler as we prepare for the second phase next session. This is a historic moment for all of the legislators who had the chance to vote on and craft this transformational bill.”Sen. Melton represents Indiana Senate District 3 which encompasses portions of Lake County. District 3 communities include Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart, Ainsworth, Merrillville and Crown Point. For more information on Sen. Melton, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800 382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s3.