Casino workers to General Assembly: Casino “bailout” should be invested in stable jobs for Indiana

w rep. charlie brownOn February 5, a delegation of several casino employees from Northern Indiana asked state lawmakers in Indianapolis to ensure casinos keep their promise of stable jobs for Indiana communities. The Indiana General Assembly is currently considering a “bailout” (Senate Bill 528) for Indiana casinos that could see as much as $235 million in state tax revenue handed back to casino operators. Casinos were approved in Indiana based to generate revenue for state and local governments and to provide stable jobs for Indiana residents.

Data shows that Indiana casinos have reduced jobs in recent years. According to figures released by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, during December 2012, Indiana’s “Gaming Industries” directly employed only 12,700 people – down 1,200 jobs from five years ago and down 3,300 jobs from 10 years ago, even as several new facilities have opened up.

The Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana shows how Indiana casinos have broken their jobs promise. In November 2012, the Majestic Star laid-off 80 employees with no advance notice to the workers. Laid-off employees, some of whom were eventually returned to work, had worked at Majestic Star for as long as sixteen years.

The Majestic Star Casino is controlled by Wayzata Investment Partners, a Minnesota-based investment firm with around $7.5 billion in assets.

“These out-of-state owners who control billions are coming to Indiana and taking away our jobs,” Alisha Coleman, a laid-off Majestic Star worker, told the Post-Tribune in November.

The casino bill would be a “blank check” to casino owners, many of them out-of-state investment funds like Wayzata, which could easily just shift the money to billionaire out-of-state investors with no benefit to Indiana. Instead, Indiana casino employees believe any casino “bailout” bill should ensure money is invested in casino jobs in Indiana – where the investment will reduce unemployment and help drive the Indiana economy.