Main street versus riverboat gambling: "Sinking" the Boat in Madison, Indiana

Thomas W. Paradis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In June of 1993 the state of Indiana legalized riverboat gambling and made available 11 licenses to gambling operations. Unlike other states, Indiana required that county referendums be held prior to the development of riverboat gambling projects within qualified counties. Predictably, numerous local interest groups were formed with the intent of convincing voters to either support or to oppose riverboat gambling. Ultimately, Jefferson County, along the Ohio River, handed gambling interests the largest referendum defeat in Indiana. While popular explanations for the defeat focus on economic and moral agendas, data revealed here indicate that a strong, community-based sense of place for the town of Madison played a significant role in the referendum outcome. As the seat of Jefferson County, the city of Madison stood to have the integrity of its historic downtown area severely compromised with the planned riverfront development project. This paper examines the strong sense of place for downtown Madison and the important role which sense of place played in the defeat of riverboat gambling in Jefferson County.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Cultural Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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