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RISING SUN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The parent of Rising Star Casino Resort in Ohio County has announced plans to lay off nearly 420 employees. The move comes about two weeks after the Indiana Gaming Commission ordered all Hoosier casinos to close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In two notices to the state, Gaming Entertainment (Indiana) LLC says the layoffs include all casino, restaurant and hotel jobs at the site, as well as riverboat staff. Only 36 “essential team employees” will continue working until the casino can reopen.

“However, employees are being advised that should the Rising Star reopen in the near future, we anticipate we will have positions for which most of our current employees may apply,” the company said.

SEYMOUR, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana State Excise Police officers have seized 2,262 items of counterfeit merchandise from 11 businesses in Dearborn, Decatur, Franklin, Jennings, Ohio, Ripley and Union counties.

Items seized Tuesday included hats, sunglasses, shirts and purses. All items were imitations of the name brands including MLB, NFL, NCAA, Ray Ban, Under Armor, Michael Kors, Gucci and Monster, said a news release from the excise police.

Each business location possesses a valid alcohol permit and tobacco sales certificate, the release said. They were cited administratively on the preliminary charge of public nuisance. Reports will be submitted to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission’s prosecutor for review.

These alcohol and tobacco permit premises were cited, the release said:

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Governor Mike Pence is against the addition of live dealers at racetrack casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville.

At least that’s what House Speaker Brian Bosma says.

It’s why the Indiana House of Representatives voted to remove live dealers from a gambling bill at one point Tuesday.

However, minutes later it voted 76-22 for an amendment to put live dealers back into the bill.

The idea of replacing video dealers with real people is viewed by some as an expansion of gambling, something the governor says he won’t support.

It’s also facing opposition from the casino employees in Rising Sun who see live dealers as unnecessary competition.

Supporters believe they would help lift sinking casino profits and the tax revenues that come from them.

“Live table games at casinos has been an integral part of that discussion,” said Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville. “It’s been a part of the bill, again, since day one and I’m asking that we keep that intact.”

“I think this is common sense,” said Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte. “It is not expansion to add live dealers in Shelbyville or Anderson.”

A final House vote on the gambling bill is anticipated Wednesday.

It still includes the provision that would allow riverboat casinos to move on land but some controversial tax changes were removed on Tuesday.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Live dealers at central Indiana racinos are one step closer to reality, however, opposition is growing.

If live dealers come to Anderson and Shelbyville it could hurt the business at two southern Indiana casinos in Rising Sun and French Lick.

It’s why efforts to help out the gambling industry in this state have also sparked a battle between casino owners.

Employees of the Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun showed up at the Statehouse in force dressed in blue in an effort to stop the bill aimed at making Indiana casinos more competitive with casinos in other states.

“We just don’t want live table games in the racinos,” said casino employee Joe Barbieri. “It’s going to hurt our business and other riverboat businesses in Indiana.”

But it had no effect on the House Ways and Means Committee.

It passed the bill that also lets riverboats move on land and gives them incentives to do so.

“And so what we offer,” said Rep. Tom Dermody, “is a ten percent tax credit up to $40 million on any type of construction at their facility.”

For the people in Rising Sun it’s no consolation.

“We don’t have the money go on land, anyway,” said CEO Dan Lee.

They believe presence of video dealers in Anderson and Shelbyville is the only reason they attract customers from Indianapolis.

“Well, that’s the only competitive edge we have,” said Lee. “So the question is whether we can stay in business.”

It’s a position also held by the owners of the French Lick casino.

“With all the competition looking to come in from Kentucky and other places,” said Steve Ferguson of the Cook Group, which owns the French Lick casino, “it just makes it a very, very difficult situation.”

Jobs are on the line but it’s not just a question of how many but also where those jobs will be located.

The reality is that the majority of Indiana casino owners will benefit from the current bill which also includes new tax breaks.

They kept a low profile Thursday but lawmakers are listening to them.

The bill now goes to the full House.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A bill now moving through the General Assembly will make two key changes in Indiana’s gambling law.

Racinos could have live dealers at table games and riverboat casinos could move their operations on land.

You can play blackjack at the racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville but the dealer appears on a video screen. The game is similar to the slot machines that dominate those gambling parlors.

Owners want to hire human beings to make table games more enjoyable and to increase business.

It’s part of a bigger problem.

“Indiana’s gaming revenues have continued to decline each year for five consecutive years,” said Jim Brown of Centaur Gaming, “with the most dramatic occurring over the last two.”

It’s also why the author of the gambling bill wants to give riverboats permission to build on land.

“They pay anywhere from $3 to 5 million in marine personnel,” said Rep. Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte,) “for a boat that doesn’t move.”

“A land based casino would offer a more competitive experience,” said Tony Rodio of Tropicana Entertainment, “than we currently provide.”

Tropicana owns the riverboat in Evansville.

The only testimony against the bill came from owners of the riverboat in Rising Sun.

They believe live dealers at the racinos would hurt their business.

“And we’re a very small company,” said Dan Lee of Rising Star Casino. “We can’t fund the losses for very long and so I’m just here laying out the facts of where we stand.”

But if the gambling bill succeeds it will be because there’s a belief that the Indiana gambling industry is suffering.

“So this is an opportunity to say, hey, we want to do something like we would do,” said Rep. Dermody, “for any other industry or any other business in our state that was struggling.”

And lawmakers know that gambling taxes brought in dealers, real and virtual, are a critical element in the state budget.

Yet this debate takes place even while the governor is on record saying that he is opposed to any expansion of gambling.

Supporters say it’s not an expansion but the whole purpose of the bill is to get more people to come to Indiana casinos and place wagers.