County Officials Voice Support For Hard Rock Terre Haute Casino Bid

Thanks to the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC), we now have a fresh perspective on the potential plans for Terre Haute's casino.

Recently, the commission unveiled new details for each of the four property plans.

Nonetheless, one bid in particular has received support from county officials.

Plans for new casino in Terre Haute

Four distinct businesses sought the rights to the casino license in Terre Haute.

Initially, Hard Rock and Lucy Luck Gaming were in charge of the project, until the IGC dismissed them due to their prolonged execution time.

Hard Rock has reapplied for the job, but it now faces competition from three new applicants. In 2019, it was the only one to apply for the original license.

The following companies are all vying for control at Terre Haute’s casino:

  • CDITHLLC (Churchill Downs)
  • Full House Resorts, Inc. (FHR-Atlas LLC)
  • Hard Rock HR Terre Haute, LLC
  • Premier Gaming Group and Terre Haute Entertainment Holdings LLC, collectively known as Terre Haute Entertainment, LLC.

On Nov. 17, at its meeting, the gaming commission will announce the company that has won.

Full House Resorts American Place

Full House Resorts is attempting to significantly expand its gaming operations in Indiana.

The company, which already possesses Rising Start Casino in southern Indiana, now aims to take control of the casino in Terre Haute.

If Full House receives the license, they will name the 100,000 square foot casino “American Place”, which would be located at 5995 Margaret Avenue, Terre Haute, Indiana 47803.

The company projects that 8 million gamblers will visit the casino within the first five years.

American Place also intends to generate 800 permanent positions, along with 1,800 temporary construction roles.

Once completed, the $250 million project will feature 1,000 slot machines, 50 table games, and over 100 guest hotel rooms.

If Full House secures the gaming license from the IGC, they plan to open a temporary casino in the former Macy's store on the east side of Terre Haute.

The smaller gaming spot is set to open in early summer 2022, and it will operate for two years while the main building is being constructed.

Churchill Downs Queen of Terre Haute

If Churchill Downs gets its wish, the “Queen of Terre Haute” will begin business operations near the Haute City Shopping Mall.

The company, Churchill, doesn’t have ownership of any casinos in Indiana, making this a significant move for them in the Hoosier State.

Churchill plans to feature 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games at the casino, similar to Full House.

However, size and staffing will be a key difference between both properties.

The proposed plan for Queen of Terre Haute, the largest yet for Terre Haute’s casino, will cover nearly 400,000 square feet. This is almost four times the size of American Place.

Approximately 270,000 square feet of the property will be allocated for “non-gaming” activities.

Although Churchill’s casino is significantly larger, it would operate with considerably fewer employees. It is estimated that it will provide 500 permanent jobs, compared to the 800 jobs at Full House.

Premier Gaming Casino

It comes as no surprise that Premier Gaming’s plan is the smallest of the four, given that they are the smallest company vying for the casino license.

The Terre Haute casino, operated by Premier, plans to incorporate 800 slot machines and 20 table games. It is projected to generate 400 permanent job opportunities and an additional 250-300 temporary positions during construction.

The company has yet to name its potential casino.

However, a location has already been selected for it. The property would be constructed near the junction of Interstate Highway 70 and State Road 46.

The significance of that site is that it provides Premier with the opportunity for expansion.

Initially, the company’s casino will only provide 60,000 square feet of space. However, it is highly likely that this won’t be a permanent situation. The plan from Premier explicitly includes provisions for “future phases” of the project, signifying a potential expansion of the casino in due course.

Hard Rock Casino Terre Haute

Hard Rock is seeking its second major victory in Indiana for 2021.

Earlier this year, the company launched Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in Gary. Now, it plans to introduce its sister property, “Rocksino”, to Terre Haute.

The Rocksino would be less spacious than American Place, Queen, or Terre Haute, but would surpass Premier’s potential property in size.

Interestingly, Hard Rock provided very few details about its Rocksino in the latest report for the IGC.

However, it’s likely safe to presume that the company will proceed with its initial plans for the property.

In the end, Hard Rock has been developing plans for the Terre Haute casino for almost two years. The entire basis of their casino license proposal is centered on the premise that they’re ready to commence construction.

Altering the plans at this point would be removing Hard Rock’s primary advantage.

The Rocksino is set to be built at 2555 Joe Fox Street, Terre Haute, IN, 47803. For those who may not know the area well, it’s located right by the intersection of I-70 and State Road 40.

Hard Rock’s plan would create 674 permanent positions, but it is extending its efforts to include construction.

The Rocksino is significantly delayed. Prior to the Spectacle scandal, the casino was set to commence its operations in fall 2021. Clearly, that timeline is no longer viable.

In an effort to prevent further delays, Hard Rock intends to assign more than 2,000 construction workers to expedite the completion of the project.

Officials in Terre Haute favor Hard Rock

Each of the four companies has a strategy for the Terre Haute’s casino, however, these strategies are irrelevant until one of them secures the gaming license.

Hard Rock possesses a unique advantage that its competitors lack.

Despite Lucy Luck Gaming missing out on the original license, its owner, Greg Gibson, who is a local businessman, remains a partner in the Hard Rock project.

His robust local connections have assisted the Hard Rock in gaining community support for its bid, a resource its competitors cannot access.

It is reported that local authorities in Terre Haute favor Hard Rock to win the casino license. Gibson and his team have even received a letter of support from the Vigo County Council, sent to the IGC.

The application of Hard Rock has received a significant vote of confidence, though it might still fall short in overcoming the earlier irritations Gibson and Lucy Luck caused to the IGC.

Regardless of which company emerges victorious in the bid, Terre Haute is set to have a new gaming spot soon. Hard Rock is still a contender for Terre Haute’s casino.

Given the probability of no new Indiana casinos opening for several years, the circumstances in Terre Haute carry added significance. This represents an uncommon opportunity to penetrate a thriving gambling market, so each corporation has considerable stakes in the IGC’s announcement on November 17.

Photo by Associated Press
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza serves as a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media, with a specialty in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Before his involvement in the legal gambling sector, Garza established his career as a sports writer, reporting on teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, and Indiana Pacers. Presently, he is the Managing Editor for Play Indiana and PlayOhio, having previously worked for reputable brands like PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. Garza has been monitoring the gambling industry since 2019 and collaborates with a group of journalists to deliver extensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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