By CRAIG DUNN

KOKOMO – It’s the final game of the Indiana State High School Basketball Championship and three seconds left in the game with the Hickory Huskers down by one. The Huskers get the ball at mid-court and Buddy Walker fires a pass to Huskers’ star Jimmy Chitwood who turns toward the basket. Jimmy’s got a Ben Franklin bet on the South Bend Central Bears so he takes two dribbles and passes the ball to Ollie McClellan who promptly clanks one off the rim. 

The Huskers lose but Jimmy’s got an extra hundred for his effort.

Think sports betting hasn’t caused many a fierce competitor to take a dive for the sake of a buck or two?  Ask the Chicago Black Sox, Pete Rose, Alex Karras, Paul Hornung and Sonny Liston, just to name a few. Many folks who place big sports bets just don’t trust their money to the game going on inside the lines. Let’s just say they are prone to trying to put their thumbs on the scale.  They’ve always done it and they always will.

Yes, due to a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court decision, sports betting is coming to a state near you. Soon!

How do I know that sports betting is going to come to Indiana in the not so distant future? Well, you just can’t be a little pregnant! Let me relate the following historical perspective:
 
1989 first Indiana Lottery

1994 Hoosier Park opened in Anderson

1995 first off-track betting parlors

1995 first of 10 casinos opened in Indiana
 
2002 Indiana Downs opened in Shelbyville
 
2006 charity gaming began

2007 slot machines approved for horse tracks

What has fueled the inevitable progression of gambling in Indiana from relatively benign scratch-offs to big time gaming? Cash, and plenty of it! According to the USA Today in a 2014 feature story, Indiana ranked fourth among gambling states with revenue in excess of $2 billion. That’s a whole big bunch of bananas. These bananas come with very little political downside.

How will sports betting come to the Hoosier State? This is how I see it happening, but then again, this is how I see most things getting done in Indiana.

The Ferndale Camel Racing and Racino decides that they want to take advantage of sports gaming and they’ve got room for it back by the hospitality soft drink stand. They trot on down to Indianapolis and hire the big law firm of Dewey, Cheatum and Howe to represent them in their discussions with state government. Frank Finster, managing partner of the law firm, has the kind of political muscle that comes from dispensing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions over the years.  Frank is one of those guys who passes through security at the Statehouse without taking his belt off.

Frank makes three stops on his whirlwind Statehouse tour. First, he stops to see the governor. “Hey Guv, just want to let you know what is going to happen during the budget session this year. Gonna be a great new, politically palatable, revenue source that will be available for you. I’m working on the legislation right now. Can’t talk any more, got places to go and people to see.”

Next, Frank drops in on Rep. Marvin Bundy, chairman of the Easy Money for No Work Sub-Committee of the Naming the State Pie Committee.  

Finster: Marvin, here is a way for the State to make two hundred million and no one will complain.”

Bundy:  But won’t Clint Longslide of United Families for the 18th Century and Navin Bluegarten of Progress, We Don’t Want No Stinkin Progress object to expanding gambling?  

Finster: Leave them to me. We’re writing other legislation that will make it mandatory to have Bibles in every classroom, as long as we have sports betting.  

Bundy: Sign me up.

Finally, Frank calls on Senator Jobs McArthy, Chairman of the We Need More Good Jobs Committee.  

Finster: Senator, this sports betting will be a job-creating godsend. Just think about how many more of your constituents will be employed down in Hazzard County! 

McArthy: Well Frank, we gonna have to look into this here sports gamblin’ thing a little closer. It might take about three weeks’ worth of per diems to figure out our best course of action. Also, y’all don’t forget to water the caucus with some campaign love. 

Finster: Done!

Fast forward to the January press conference announcing the introduction of HB1002, an Act Enabling Certain Sports Gambling. At the press conference the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bundy, along with Senate sponsor Jobs McArthy tell the assembled media that in an effort to create thousands of good-paying Hoosier jobs, increase revenue to the state, which will be dedicated to teacher pensions and property tax reductions, remain competitive with other states and to improve the viability of the Indiana gaming industry, a bill to allow sports betting has been filed. Further, Rep. Bundy announced that in an effort to protect our most precious asset, our children, that Pop Warner football and high school wrestling have been excluded from the betting, unless Illinois allows it.

And so it shall be done.

I’m willing to bet that this process, or something very close to it, has already begun to take place. Sure as the corn grows and the sun comes up in the east, sports betting is on the horizon. It surely won’t take as long as Sunday liquor sales. There’s way too much money piled up on the pro side and very little on the con. Attorneys for Gamblers Anonymous just don’t knock down $600 per hour fees and write campaign checks with lots of zeros before the decimal point.

Don’t get me wrong. I am content with gambling of all types. I would much rather have some sucker down in Hawg’s Holler paying my taxes for me than doing it myself. Hooray for regressive taxes that are paid for by people who never took a statistics class! We like to see smiling taxpayers and this old stupidity tax comes with an all-you-can-choke-down buffet.

My only problem with pandemic sports gambling is the potential for the further destruction of amateur sports. You think that big sneaker and apparel contracts have screwed college basketball and football? Just wait until sports gambling comes to a state near you. The corruption factor will start the moment a casino hires its first lobbyist on the subject and it will be all downhill from there.

As I stated previously, you can’t be a little pregnant.  You either are or you aren’t.  I’m here to tell you that we’re “ready to explode” pregnant and this time it’s twins. 

Dunn is the former chairman of the Howard County and 4th CD Republican parties.