The Indiana Gaming Commission will not likely act on the application for a Vigo County casino license at its March 26 meeting, said commission Deputy Director Jenny Reske.
Reske said an investigation into alleged wrongdoing believed to involve an executive with lone license applicant Spectacle Entertainment is ongoing. As such, it would be premature for the commission to act on the license.
“The Indiana Gaming Commission is performing a review of the matter — and while I cannot disclose much of what is being investigated — I can say the Commission has retained an outside consultant to help us understand exactly what the documents we’ve received from Virginia mean and what the implications of some of that information could be,” Reske said.
The information that gave rise to the Gaming Commission’s probe became public Jan. 23 in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia.
There, Charles O’Neill of Strategic Campaign Group Inc. pleaded guilty to conspiring in a 2015 scheme to funnel more than $15,000 from an Indianapolis-based gaming company to a campaign for a candidate for the U.S. House from Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District.
Involved in the scheme, the government says, were “Person A … the vice president and general counsel of Company A, a gaming corporation formed in Delaware and based in Indianapolis, IN.”
The company and individual were not named in court documents, but the Gaming Commission said it understood the company in question to be “Centaur Gaming.”
The commission also said, “Certain key people in that company now own and operate Spectacle Gaming, the holder of the Majestic Star Casino license in Gary. Spectacle is also currently undertaking a land-based casino project in Gary and pursuing the new casino license in Vigo County.”
Reske on Wednesday said that with the commission not being the lead agency, it’s information gathering is largely at the mercy of the federal agencies with primary jurisdiction.
“We don’t have the legal jurisdiction or resources to conduct an investigation into a violation of federal law,” Reske said. “So we’ll be closely watching any developments that occur and consulting with Walt Stowe, a former FBI agent, to determine the appropriate next steps.”
And while postponing any action on the license until the Gaming Commission’s next meeting in either May or June may seem like a prolongation of the casino development’s time line, Reske said a delay makes the process similar to others before it.
“I don’t think we’re outside a reasonable time period for awarding the Terre Haute license,” Reske said. “When we were looking at having a February meeting to make a decision, we were working on a very expedited time line because we were working with one known applicant.
“That initial timeline may have given the impression that any longer timeline might not be acceptable, but really a normal casino application timeline would take several months.”
And while future developments are somewhat tied to the federal investigation, Reske said it would be reasonable to assume the Gaming Commission would take action on the license at its May/June meeting.
But more than anything, Reske said, the Gaming Commission is dedicated to doing its due diligence and doing its best by Indiana gaming and its host communities.
“It is imperative to the commission that we protect and act in the best interest of casino host communities,” Reske said. “And ensuring that we have a reasonable time line to discuss and act on a Terre Haute license is among out top priorities.”
Reporter Alex Modesitt can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarAlex.