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Opening Arguments

Dibs for dummies

Hey, Indianapolis is trying to steal our casino idea:

Here's an unlikely but plausible scenario that could unfold as the General Assembly's current session marches toward a frantic finish:

Legislative leaders look for a way to plug the deficit plaguing the city's Capital Improvement Board, which operates Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse and other venues.

Casino owners in Anderson and Shelbyville offer to give back some of their slot machines to create a casino in Union Station. It might hurt their revenues at the horse tracks in Madison and Shelby counties, but they would still gain a foothold in the state's largest city. The city in turn would get a stream of revenue to pay for the stadium deficit. Union Station also would gain a new lease on life.

As the writer notes, Fort Wayne has dibs on 500 of those slot machines from Hoosier Park in Anderson, whose owner faces serious financial dtrouble and is restructuring its debt.

I'm not sure exactly where the writer stands, though. First, he lists all the reasons his scenario probably won't come about, principally because everybody from the mayor to the governor is against the idea. Then he closes by saying we were promised there would never be any gambling in Indiana except a state lottery and horse racing, and now "we have riverboat gambling on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River, casinos in Shelbyville and Anderson, and off-track betting parlors. And the casinos are pleading for new tax breaks because business is so bad. Addiction to gambling is hard to reverse once started.

Oh, and just in case you think I'm not a conscientious blogger, I became curious about the origin of "dibs" and wasted a good 15 minutes (well, they would have been good 25 minutes) discovering that nobody really knows. If Eric Zorn thinks so, that's good enough for me.