New information released this past week by the Indiana Gaming Commission shows that the four bidders for the Terre Haute casino license project their proposed developments will create between 400 to 800 new jobs and generate adjusted gross gaming revenues between $510 million and $811 million.
The data comes from the applications submitted last month by the four aspiring license holders, IGC Deputy Director Jenny Reske told Casino.org last Thursday. The commission is currently reviewing the applications and is expected to make an award at its meeting on Nov. 17.
Indiana lawmakers included a casino license for Vigo County, where Terre Haute serves as the county seat, in the 2019 expanded gaming bill that also legalized sports betting. That November, voters in the west central county that borders Illinois overwhelmingly approved the casino measure.
The IGC then awarded the casino license in May 2020 to a venture led by Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson. But the initial award was delayed by three months thanks to a commission investigation into Spectacle Entertainment, a gaming company founded by Gibson and Rod Ratcliff in 2018.
That investigation eventually led to Ratcliff and John Keeler, another Spectacle executive, leaving the Terre Haute project. Both men would also end up eventually losing their gaming licenses completely.
And as the IGC continued its investigation into Spectacle, Gibson’s Lucy Luck was facing challenges in getting an executive team together and addressing state regulator concerns about who would invest in the project. No construction had started on it, either.
In June, more than a year after Gibson’s firm won the license, the commission took the unprecedented step of not renewing the license and starting the application process over. The Terre Haute businessman has appealed that decision.
Full House Proposes Largest Investment
Of the four bidders, Full House Resorts has the most aggressive proposal. It calls for investing $250 million in a casino project called American Place, with $187 million million being invested in the casino and the remained on non-gaming portions of the project. The Las Vegas-based company projects adjusted gross gaming revenues of $811 million over the first five years the permanent casino opens, with 8 million visitors.
The projected revenue is more than 25 percent higher than the second-largest projection, and the 8 million visitors is nearly 20 percent higher than the next largest estimate.
Full House is also the only bidder offering to open a temporary facility that would open within six months of receiving the license. The company expects the permanent venue, which would also feature a uniquely designed, semicircular-shaped 100-room hotel, would open in 18 to 24 months.
Full House plans a public presentation of its proposal this Thursday in Terre Haute.
Churchill Downs Incorporated anticipates its $190 million Queen of Terre Haute proposal would generate $638.9 million and 6.7 million visitors over its first five years. The Louisville-based company also proposes to build a 125-room hotel, the largest of any of the bidders. Of Churchill’s $190 million, $110 million would be invested in the casino.
Both American Place and Queen of Terre Haute would operate casinos with 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games.
Premier Gaming proposes to build a $112 million casino with 800 slots and 20 tables. At $510 million, it’s adjusted gross gaming revenue forecast is the smallest of the bidders, as is the 5 million visitors and 80-room hotel.
The IGC said Premier plans to invest $58 million in the casino.
Hard Rock Picks Up More Local Support
The gaming commission’s table indicates that none of the four bidders have supplied a resolution of local support for their proposal. However, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, the Vigo County Commissioners, and the Vigo County Council all have sent letters to the commission urging them to support the Hard Rock International proposal.
Hard Rock, which was going to be a partner with Gibson, is now the lead partner in a new proposal that includes the Terre Haute businessman. The Florida-based company plans a $191 million “Rocksino” that it estimates will generate $561 million in revenue over the first five years.
The plan picked up more support this past week when Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett told Indiana Public Mediaearlier this week that the city wants “to stick with the local guy” regarding the casino.
One we think the Hard Rock brand is top notch, and two, the fact that Greg would be is directly involved with that proposal, because he’s just done so much for the community previously and continues to do today,” Bennett said.
A statement by Hard Rock International COO Jon Lucas to Casino.org late last month confirmed Gibson’s involvement, but while Lucas called Gibson a partner in the joint venture, Lucas also emphasized that Hard Rock would be the management company and responsible for daily operations. Lucas’ statement also noted that the company plans a 175-room hotel, but the IGC’s table indicated that was “not provided” in their application
The mayor in his interview with Indiana Public Media added city and county leaders will not have that much input into the selection process.
According to a commission statement issued in late June, the IGC said that it’s “committed to ensuring that the applicant selected for the Vigo County casino meets or exceeds all applicable standards and presents the highest potential for successful operation of a casino. It is a top priority Commission to issue this license as expeditiously as possible.”
Jobs Jobs Jobs
Besides offering the largest investment, Full House also forecasts it would create the most permanent jobs. Its American Place Casino would create 800 jobs, according to the IGC. Hard Rock’s application forecasts 674 jobs, with Churchill Downs estimating 500 and Premier expecting 400.
Hard Rock, though, anticipates the most construction jobs, with 2,058. Full House expects 1,800, with Churchill’s proposal forecasting 1,000 construction jobs. Premier’s application said it expects between 250 to 300 construction jobs to be created.
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