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10/30/2018 7:13:00 PM
Hammond mayor wants Majestic Star Casino's second gaming license

Lauren Cross, Times of Northwest Indiana

On the same day a state legislative committee endorsed the city of Gary's plans to relocate Majestic Star Casino to make way for development of Buffington Harbor, the mayor of Hammond said he wants in on the action. 

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said in a statement Tuesday he wants state lawmakers to relocate one of Majestic Star’s two gaming licenses to Hammond.

The Hammond City Council is considering a resolution indicating the city's desire to have one of the licenses be relocated to Hammond, he said.  

McDermott made a similar pitch in 2012. Officials in Terre Haute have expressed interest in the second license. 

With the state’s largest grossing casino in Hammond at the border with Chicago, Hammond has been a success story in the gaming industry, according to a city news release. 

“Month after month and year after year, Hammond’s Horseshoe Casino leads the way in gaming revenue and taxes generated for the state of Indiana. There isn’t any reason the city can’t continue to make even more money for the state by taking advantage of its border with Illinois,” McDermott said in the release. 

In 1994, the Indiana Gaming Commission issued two gaming licenses for casinos in Gary. To this day, Gary's Majestic Star continues to operates on two state casino licenses, a remnant of a time when the two current Majestic Star boats had different owners. 

In 1996, two riverboats opened in Buffington Harbor — Trump Casino and Majestic Star. The law was later expanded to allow for 10 riverboat casinos, including Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, the successor to the Empress Casino that opened in 1998.

In 2015, state lawmakers approved further gaming expansion and permitted land-based casinos in Indiana. 

Due to a transfer of ownership from Trump casino, Majestic Star now holds both gaming licenses, one of which cannot be transferred or sold without a change in Indiana law. 

Hammond officials said they support the transfer of a single license from Buffington Harbor to a land-based location, according to the news release. 

"I just want to make sure that one of the licenses comes to Hammond where it belongs and where revenue can be increased for the city, county and state. With sports book gaming around the corner and all the competitive advantages we have in Hammond, it is a no-brainer to put another casino in Hammond. As a state we have a tremendous opportunity here,” McDermott said. 

The Hammond City Council will consider the resolution at its Monday meeting.

McDermott could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Related Stories:
• Gary hoping legislature will allow Majestic Star Casino move
• Gary officials seek casino move, freight hub for Buffington Harbor
• State lawmakers endorse vision for Gary intermodal facility at Buffington Harbor
• Hammond council 'all in' as city seeks Gary's second gaming license
• Hobart eyes partnership with Merrillville in bid for convention center, casino

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