The organizers of Gen Con,Indiana’s largest convention with over $50 million worth of economic impact, will take their business elsewhere if Gov. Mike Pence signs in a very controversial law. The intention of the bill is to protect religious freedoms of business owners by giving them the power to refuse services to same sex couples.

The measure has already made its way to Pence’s desk, but in retaliation Adrian Swartout, the owner and CEO of Gen Con, sent a letter to Pence addressing their issues. “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.”

Besides addressing the issues presented by this bill, Swartout made point to remind Pence of the credentials of Gen Con. Gen Con currently is, “the original, longest-running, best-attended gaming convention in the world!” Last year Gen Con attracted 56,000 to the Indiana Convention Center bringing $50 million in revenue to the state.

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“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.”

This would be a slight conflict of interest, as Gen Con is technically in contract until 2020. The spokesman of the convention has, however, informed everyone that the contract will not be broken, but when that time is over, and if the bill is passed, they will reconsider returning.

Gen Con isn’t the only one taking a stand against this bill. Salesforce wrote a similar letter, stating that the bill would make them reconsider continuing to grow in the city. While the city’s tourism bureau, Visit Indy, has seen their vice president of marketing and communication Chris Gahl take a stand against the bill over a week ago.

Gahl saw the letter that Swartout wrote to Gov. Pence before it was sent, and while no other clients have expressed vocal concern against the bill, potential clients have emailed regarding the image it might cast over them.

“Our concern is that there could be a misconception with this bill that doesn’t paint a picture of being a warm, welcoming, hospitable place,” Gahl said. “It doesn’t align with the brand that is Indianapolis, and for that matter, Indiana. Because it could impact our ability to win convention business down the road — and keep convention business — we raised our hand and said we do have a concern.”

Of course 19 other states do have similar laws in place, and so it’s no wonder that Gov. Pence, who already has stated he intends to sign the measure, was undeterred by the letter from Gen Con.

“The Governor has been clear on where he stands on this issue and we don’t have anything to add at this time,” said spokeswoman Kara Brooks.

Supporters of the bill have said it would protect people and business owners with such religious beliefs from the governments intrusion.

Likewise those against the bill say it is legal discrimination against the LGBT community.

The Republican-controlled Indiana Senate gave the bill final approval on Tuesday afternoon, on a 40-10 vote along the party lines.

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About The Author

Caitlin F
Staff Writer

Caitlin has two passions in life, writing and video games. Only seemed wise to combine the two. When she isn’t playing the latest title, she is partaking in other nerd endeavors online or at local comic shops.