News (USA)

Major gaming convention says it may leave Indiana if governor signs anti-LGBT bill


INDIANAPOLIS — The organizers of Indianapolis’ largest convention say they’ll move the event elsewhere if Gov. Mike Pence signs a religious freedom bill that could legalize discrimination against LGBT people.

Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, sent a letter to the governor Tuesday, saying the legislation threatens the gaming convention’s future in Indiana.

She told Pence the bill could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against Gen Con’s diverse attendee base and will negatively impact the state’s economy.

“Last year, Gen Con hosted more than 56,000 attendees from more than 40 different countries and all 50 states,” Swartout wrote to the governor.

“Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.

“Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy.”

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Gen Con’s website describes the convention as “the original, longest-running, best-attended gaming convention in the world!”

Swartout says the convention has an annual economic impact of more than $50 million.

Gen Con is under contract to hold the conference in Indianapolis through 2020. Conference spokeswoman Stacia Kirby tells The Indianapolis Star there are no plans to break the contract, but if Pence signs the bill, it would factor into future decisions.

Update: Pence is expected to sign the bill on Thursday, March 26.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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