Details on casino proposals emerge

Four very different proposals for a Vigo County casino include Hard Rock (top left), Premier Gaming Group (top right), Full House Resorts, Inc. (botton left), and Churchill Downs (bottom right).

The Indiana Gaming Commission intends to decide Nov. 17 which company will be granted the Vigo County casino license.

Greg Small, executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, announced the date at the commission's meeting Wednesday.

"We have received four applications, so we are guaranteed a competitive process which I think will be to the great benefit of both the state and the local community, specifically because I think we have four known operators that are gaming professionals in other jurisdictions, so I think we have a good process ahead of us," Small said.

The four applicants now contending for the Vigo County casino license are CDITH LLC (Churchill Downs), FHR-Atlas LLC (Full House Resorts), HR Terre Haute LLC (Hard Rock) and Terre Haute Entertainment LLC (Premier Gaming Group/Terre Haute Holdings LLC).

This application process started after the commission in June denied an annual license renewal to Lucy Luck Gaming LLC, citing a lack of an executive team in place and saying that Lucy Luck's financing was incomplete. Lucy Luck appealed the commission's renewal denial in July, and an administrative law judge then held an initial hearing in August.

The Tribune-Star has reached out for comment to Terre Haute businessman and philanthropist Greg Gibson, who is chairman of Lucy Luck. The newspaper has yet to hear back.

Parties in the administrative law case expect a hearing in December before Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Gamboa. The newspaper has made a records request for all orders issued in hearings before the administrative law judge.

Lucky Luck Gaming LLC, formerly Spectacle Jack, was the only applicant for a Terre Haute casino project in 2019.

Hard Rock was to provide the branding for Terre Haute's casino with Lucy Luck to run the day-to-day operations. However, after the IGC's action, Hard Rock bought a majority ownership of Spectacle Entertainment and the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana and is now making its own run at the Vigo County license.

Gibson has not publicly said whether he has a portion of Hard Rock's latest effort in Terre Haute.

Current contenders

Hard Rock is proposing a Rocksino with 850 slot machines, 35 table and poker games, six restaurants and bars, a Velvet Sessions Showroom entertainment venue that seats 300, and a 1,000-square foot Rock Shop retail center.

The site plan remains the same as for Lucy Luck Gaming, with its casino complex design the same, adding a hotel on the casino's east side. That would place the casino between the existing Holiday Inn Express and a new hotel on Terre Haute's east side along U.S. 40/Indiana 46 next to I-70.

In its proposal, Full House Resorts, which plans a casino named American Place, would use a spot in the Haute City Center Mall as a temporary gaming site, the former Macy's department store and operate it for 18 to 24 months while American Place is under construction. If given approval, Full House would open its temporary casino by mid-May of 2022.

American Place is to be developed on on 32 acres of land that Full House says it has under contract near the Interstate 70 and U.S. 40/Indiana 46 intersection on Terre Haute's east side. The Full House application packet includes a rendering that shows a map with its complex cited on the south side East Margaret Avenue directly behind the Pilot Travel Center and the VoMac Sales & Service Truck Center.

Full House said it would invest $250 million in its proposal for 1,000 slot machines, 50 table games and a state-of-the-art sportsbook and a unique half circle 100-room hotel and greenhouse restaurants.

The Tribune-Star has made requests to the IGC for locations of Churchill Downs and Premier Gaming Group/Terre Haute Holdings LLC proposed casinos in Vigo County as well as total investments for the other casino groups.

Churchhill Downs stated it would feature to 1,000 slot machines, 50 table games, a 125-room luxury hotel, and TwinSpires sportsbook.

Churchill Downs would have an entertainment space with seating for 500 patrons "to ensure that the Special Events Room complements, rather than competes with, the new $35 million Terre Haute Convention Center. Once open, we believe the Queen of Terre Haute and its Special Events Room, will be a powerful tool to help Terre Haute attract events to its new downtown convention center."

The facility would have a maximum capacity of 6,600 people. The connecting Hotel at the Queen of Terre Haute would have a capacity of 900 people, featuring standard, junior and executive suites and a presidential suite. Churchill Downs reports projections from the Innovation Group's Gaming Market Assessment suggests it will serve in excess of 1.3 million gaming patrons per year.

The proposal by Terre Haute Entertainment LLC and Premier Gaming Group would include a casino with 800 slot machines and 20 table games, also including an outdoor smoking patio; a sports-themed, full-service sportsbook restaurant; a fine-dining restaurant; a lunch-dinner café, a feature bar on the casino floor with bar-top games; and a covered outdoor rooftop bar.

It will include a Sportsbook Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant, cafe restaurant, a feature bar on the casino floor and a covered outdoor rooftop bar, and an employee dining facility.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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