Republican lawmakers on Thursday called for Indiana to ban a smartphone app used to conduct online gaming contests, arguing that it encourages people to gamble at the expense of taxpayers.
The Indiana Gaming Commission issued a public warning to people playing games on its website after reports surfaced that some gamblers had submitted fraudulent information to submit their games for entry.
Republican State Representative John Bell, a member of the House Committee on Government Operations, said the commission should block the app, and urged the legislature to consider a bill that would ban the app.
“We’re a small business.
We’re a family-owned business.
It’s the only way to compete,” Bell said.
“It’s not fair to our customers.
It puts our competitors in a difficult position.”
The Indiana lottery was rocked by allegations of widespread gaming fraud in January, when a gaming industry official and three other officials pleaded guilty to mail fraud, conspiracy, theft and money laundering charges.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced in February that the state would be launching a criminal investigation into the games, but the investigation has since been suspended and is expected to be completed in the fall.
The Department of Justice announced Thursday that the department will begin its own criminal investigation.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the victims of these kinds of crimes to make sure there’s an open door,” Bell told the Associated Press.
“And if the doors are closed, then I think it should be open.”
Bell said that he’s not advocating for the app to get banned, but he said the app encourages people “to gamble at taxpayers’ expense.”
The lottery commission said that the app is still available on the internet, but Bell said that people who use it should contact the commission to report suspicious or fraudulent activity.
The Indianapolis Star reported that several people contacted the commission by phone about the app and were told that they should report any suspicious or unauthorized activity.
Bell said he has spoken with his colleague, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, and other lawmakers, and said that if there is any sort of criminal activity that could lead to the lottery suspending the app or suspending all its games, then Rosenberger will ask the legislature for help.
“The Legislature has to be involved.
They can’t just do this by themselves,” Bell added.
“We’re going to have to have an open discussion, and it’s going to be a tough conversation.
We have to come together to get something done.”