Gen Con Threatens to Leave Indiana Over Controversial Senate Bill
The organizers of Gen Con, the largest tabletop game convention in North America, have threatened to relocate to a different state due to the passage of Senate Bill 101, which allows Indiana business owners to refuse service based on the patron's sexual orientation.
Gen Con LLC has sent a formal statement to Mike Pence, the Republican Governor of Indiana, threatening to axe their long term agreement with Visit Indy to host the annual Gen Con event at the Indianapolis Convention Center through to 2020, Polygon reports. The convention's organizers have sent this warning to the Governor because of the passage of SB 101, which the Indianapolis Star called the "religious freedom" bill, that allows Indiana store and business owners to refuse their services to same-sex couples.
Here is a transcription of Gen Con LLC CEO Adrian Swartout's letter to the Governor:
Dear Governor Pence,
Last year, Gen Con hosted more than 56,000 attendees from more than 40 different countries and all 50 states at the Indiana Convention Center. 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, the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.
For more than a decade, Indianapolis has provided tremendous hospitality and accommodation to our attendees, culminating in an estimated annual economic impact of more than $50 million dollars to the city. Gen Con and its attendees look forward to receiving the same warm Hoosier hospitality throughout the term of our contract.
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.
We ask that you please reconsider your support of SB 101.
Gen Con LLC
While many of you are thinking, "it's just a convention, it's not a big deal for the governor to pass this up," there are other big conventions that are held in Indiana as well. Conventions bring tens of thousands of tourists to its location, whose expenditures help flourish the local economies of the cities and surrounding areas that host them. If other major conventions were to abandon Indiana, the overall state could be hit with major blows to the annual profits of its local businesses, all for the sake of discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation.