John M. Becker

IN's Largest Convention Threatens to Leave Over Law

Filed By John M. Becker | March 25, 2015 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Christianists, convention, discrimination, gaming, Gen Con, Indiana, license to discriminate, Mike Pence, religious freedom, religious liberty, SB 101, special rights

indianapolis-skyline.JPGThe owner of Gen Con -- the largest and most economically powerful convention in Indianapolis and the biggest gaming convention in the country -- is threatening to pull out of the state of Indiana if the state's Republican governor, Mike Pence, follows through on his plan to sign an anti-LGBT "license to discriminate" bill into law.

The Indianapolis Star reports:

"Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years," said Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Pence just hours after lawmakers sent the measure to his desk.

Gen Con's website describes the convention as "the original, longest-running, best-attended gaming convention in the world!" The conference attracted 56,000 people last year to the Indiana Convention Center and has an annual economic impact of more than $50 million, Swartout said in the letter.

"Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds," she wrote. "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."

Gen Con is under contract to hold the conference in Indianapolis through 2020. Conference spokeswoman Stacia Kirby said there are no plans to break the contract. But the state's adoption of the measure would factor into future decisions, she said.

But despite the threat of major economic harm to his state, Governor Pence remains defiant: a spokeswoman told the Star that Pence has made his position clear, and "we don't have anything to add at this time."

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