Washington Attempts to Woo Gen Con

Image from Legal Career Path

Image from Legal Career Path

Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law has inflamed tensions on both sides of the debate and while the Dice Tower does not comment on political issues there is a bit of this issue that is relevant to gaming. And by a bit I mean a $50 million bit.

Gen Con is either the largest or second largest (depending on if you believe Gen Con promoters or the promoters for Germany’s Essen gaming convention) gaming convention of its kind. Last year it drew 56,000 attendees and annually generates a total economic impact for the area estimated at $50 million dollars. Now Gen Con CEO Adrian Swartout could be looking to give it a new home. Prior to the signing of the Indiana religious freedom bill Swartout had indicated she would look to move Gen Con out of state should it indeed become law.

Proponents of the law say it protects business owners from being forced to engage in business with those living a lifestyle contrary to their belief system. Opponents say the bill is designed to discriminate specifically against the LGBT community.

“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.”

Now that the bill has been passed 37 Washington state senators and representatives have signed a document encouraging Swartout to relocate the convention to the state that brought us grunge and $8 coffees. As it turns out Swartout is a Washington state native which could potentially sweeten the deal for her.

The catch? Gen Con is currently contracted through 2020 in Indiana. Gen Con spokeswoman Stacia Kirby indicated there are no current plans to break the contract. However, she went on to say that current events will affect future plans.

Since signing the bill Indiana lawmakers have scrambled to pass a “fix” for the bill which they hope will better clarify the bill as being inclusive rather than discriminatory. The question remains as to whether this adjustment will be enough to keep Swartout and Gen Con in the Hoosier State.

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