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Gen Con considers its future in Indy

Published: March 27, 2015

Gen Con CEO Adrian Swartout sounded a cautionary note on March 26, hours after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101), which allows businesses to refuse services to people for religious reasons.

 

In an open letter to the “Gen Con Community,” Pence noted that Gen Con has a contract with Indianapolis through 2020, and that this year’s attendees should receive a warm response from the city. But with passage of RFRA, he said he would understand if, “based upon your principles,” some attendees and exhibitors decide to stay away.

 

Swartout then added: “What does the future hold for Gen Con in 2021 and beyond? Planning and bidding for our convention is a long-term process that begins five years prior to contract-term commencement. Discussions, whether to remain in Indy or move elsewhere, have begun.”

 

Other groups and companies reacted to the new law. Salesforce, a $4 billion software company, said it would reduce its investments in the state. The Indianapolis-based NCAA expressed concern over the law, saying it would look at "the implications of [RFRA] and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.” 

 

Opponents of the law, which takes effect in July, are concerned that businesses will be able to refuse service to gays and lesbians. Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, said Indiana lawmakers “have sent a dangerous and discriminatory message. They’ve basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it’s OK to discriminate against people despite what the law says.”