I-Gaming Prohibition Bills Resurface in Indiana

21 January 2005

Two legislators in Indiana have re-introduced bills to regulate I-gaming within the state. Both bills are very similar to antecedent bills that were introduced in past years but failed to pass.

House Bill 1191, authored by Rep. Jerry Denbo (D), is essentially the same bill Denbo has introduced every year since 1999. The legislation would make Internet gambling by players in Indiana punishable as a Class B misdemeanor, while the act of operating or promoting an Internet gambling site from Indiana would become a Class D felony.

Denbo's bill would also require Indiana's Internet service providers and other companies that operate interactive computer services to block access to any sites that offer or promote online gambling. If they fail to do so, law enforcement officials would be granted the power to shut them down.

Working its way through the other chamber of Indiana's legislature is Sen. David Ford's (R) S.B. 92, which like H.B. 1191, has appeared with slight variations for several years. Ford's bill would also make the operation of an Internet gambling site in Indiana a Class D felony, but it would not make online gambling among Indiana's citizens a punishable offense (although technically the activity is supposedly already illegal). It would also not require Internet service providers to block access to Internet gambling sites. It does, however, provide Internet service providers with "a cause of action against a person who initiates or assists the transmission of a commercial electronic mail message that violates the prohibition against using the Internet to engage in unlawful or professional gambling."

Neither bill made it out of their committees in '04, but S.B. 92 is already off to a quick start this year, having been adopted by the Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters. It will probably appear on the Senate floor for a vote next week.

"Every time the bill has come before the Senate," Ford explained, "it has passed unanimously for procedural reasons, although last year there was kind of a bloody political fight over all the bills, so a lot of them died. It hasn't really had a final vote in the House yet."

Ford added that Indiana's interactive computer services companies have so far showed support for S.B. 92. "We've been working with all the legitimate companies to see if there are ways to make sure that people who are doing what they are legally entitled to still can, and at the same time take care of those people who are obviously not legal," he said. "So far we've got pretty good cooperation."

H.B. 1191, meanwhile, sits before the Committee on Public Policy and Veterans Affairs, where it has not yet been addressed. It was never addressed last year.

Click here to view S.B. 92.

Click here to view H.B. 1191.