Centaur Gaming is the owner of two Indiana casino/horse tracks and three off-track betting operations. The company commands a lot of political influence in the state. And, despite all the protests of ignorance, the state legislators who voted for this law probably weren’t completely unaware of the connections.
A lobbyist that represents Centaur also worked for Indiana Vapor Company, owned by Zak Laikin, who was a primary force behind the law. Laikin now heads the association that represents the licensed e-liquid manufacturers.
According to the IBJ, that lobbyist, James Purucker hosted fundraising events for legislators at an off-track betting facility owned by Centaur. Gambling businesses aren’t allowed to make donations to political campaigns, or even provide indirect contributions. Purucker claimed he paid for the events himself.
Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette was one of the lawmakers who held fundraising events at the Centaur location. He sponsored the 2016 revision of the vaping law. The law was carefully designed to give one security company control over which e-liquid companies would be able to receive licenses.
According to the IBJ article, that company — Mulhaupt’s of Lafayette — is owned by a high school classmate of Alting’s. The senator hasn’t responded to the paper’s requests for comment.
During a hearing for one of the lawsuits challenging the law, the security company’s owner Doug Mulhaupt said that he had discussed the bill (before it became law) with Centaur executive vice president Kurt Wilson. Wilson wouldn’t discuss the specifics of that conversation with the IBJ. “I really don’t feel at liberty to talk about private conversations I have with him about business matters,” Wilson told the paper.