Fairness should be in the fabric of any legislation involving a relocation of Gary casinos and licenses.

That's why a recent change in an Indiana Senate bill should be tossed and reworked by both Indiana General Assembly chambers.

At the heart of the original bill is a promising idea.

It would allow one of Gary's two financially struggling casinos to move to a more high-profile land-based location, hopefully with a better economic payoff for the entire city.

The measure also rightly would allow the second Gary casino license to be sold and moved out of the region.

Earlier this month, we argued the legislation also should include language allowing other existing casinos in the state to relocate to land-based facilities, leveling the economic playing field. It's a matter of fairness.

While the original bill doesn't include such language, a previous version did contain language that would have required Gary to make up for any revenue shortfalls suffered by Hammond and East Chicago city governments as a result of the Gary casino moves.

The hold-harmless clause ensured that municipal revenue in those two other cities wouldn't suffer by a land-based Gary casino, relocated from the lakeshore to a prime location near Interstate 80/94.

But last week, an amended version of the bill ignited a firestorm with Hammond and East Chicago city leaders, removing the hold-harmless clause that mayors in both cities said they were promised in the original legislation.

The bill in its current form favors Gary to the determent of other region communities.

The bill's amended language leaves any reparation payments the city of Gary might make to Hammond or East Chicago up to the discretion of Gary.

It's unfair and insulting to the two other communities.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said he and fellow East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland were promised that hold-harmless language would remain in the Senate's Gary casinos bill.

"When I testified and Mayor Copeland testified about this bill in the Senate committee, they specifically told us there would be hold-harmless language in the bill to keep the Hammond and East Chicago governments whole," McDermott said.

"I toned down my opposition to the bill because of that assurance. Now it looks like they just did it to shut me and Mayor Copeland up. This was bad faith and anti-Region."

We agree.

We all should want to see Gary experience more prosperity.

But it shouldn't come at the expense of other Region cities — and frankly, private businesses in those cities.

The Legislature should restore the hold-harmless language and level the playing field by allowing Hammond, East Chicago and Michigan City casinos, currently based on the lakeshore, to make similar land-based moves.

Anything less is bad law.

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