Indiana Shuts Door On iPoker For 2023 Following Corruption Scandal

Last Updated on November 29, 2023 Author:Adrian Sterne

Sean Eberhart and Spectacle EntertainmentSummary:

  • Indiana’s efforts to legalize iPoker have been marred by a corruption scandal
  • A former lawmaker pleaded guilty to taking a bribe from a gaming company
  • Top legislators say it is unlikely an iGaming Bill will be introduced in 2024 and beyond

A scandal involving a former lawmaker has dashed hopes for expanded iGaming in the state of Indiana.

It might take several years before a new iGaming Bill is introduced, with state legislators discounting the possibility of putting forward legislation to legalize online poker and casino gaming in 2024.

Former Lawmaker Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charges

Former Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville, pictured) was accused of accepting a bribe from gaming company Spectacle Entertainment while serving as a member of the House Committee on Public Policy. The allegations date back to 2019 when Eberhart spearheaded a gaming Bill to allow Spectacle to transfer licenses from its two floating casinos in Gary to two land-based properties.

Under the Bill, Spectacle would pay a one-time transfer fee of $20 million, instead of the required $100 million. Apart from that, the company would also enjoy tax incentives. The Bill was signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb in the same year.

Eberhart’s efforts to get the Bill approved turned out to be part of a conspiracy between him and Spectacle, with the former lawmaker admitting he introduced the legislation in exchange for a lucrative six-figure employment at the gaming company. The former Republican politician, well-known as an iGaming supporter, revealed Spectacle promised him a job with an annual salary of at least $350,000.


Another Huge Blow to Indiana’s iGaming Campaign

The campaign for expanded iGaming in Indiana has been significantly impacted by the corruption scandal, with top lawmakers now ruling out the introduction of any iGaming Bill in 2024.

The most recent Bill seeking to legalize online poker and casino gaming in the state was filed in 2023. However, just like other similar Bills introduced before it, HB 1536 was dropped in committee.

In an interview with a local radio station, Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray and House Speaker Todd Huston said the scandal taints the statehouse and diminishes the confidence that residents have in the integrity of lawmakers.

Bray added that it would now be much more difficult to push for expanded iGaming in Indiana.

There were hopes things could change in 2024, especially following a report that showed online poker and casino gaming wouldn’t cannibalize revenue for the 13 land-based casinos operating in the state. But as a direct result of the bribery scandal, legalizing online poker and casino gaming will continue to be an uphill battle in The Hoosier State.

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