Citing Vigo County and Terre Haute's strict non-smoking ordinances and poor health metrics, Spectacle Jack LLC announced Friday it will make its Terre Haute casino smoke free.

Terre Haute businessman and Spectacle Jack Chairman Greg Gibson sought a non-smoking casino from the start, according to a news release from the casino via local public relations firm RJL Solutions.

Gibson believes the decision made in collaboration with Hard Rock International, "is another reason Spectacle Jack’s partnership with the gaming dynasty is a positive one for the community and state."

“Recognizing we had to make a good business decision for the company to maintain a solid financial ground for the future and provide a welcoming entertainment facility for all Hoosiers and guests, we had to look at data, become creative and benchmark other facilities which were successful with this model,” Gibson said in the news release.

And while there will be no smoking on the main casino floor, the whole property won't be nonsmoking.

To accommodate guests while meeting requirements of the smoking ordinances, Spectacle Jack and Hard Rock designed an outdoor patio for smokers.

The covered patio will feature:

• 117 slots and eight table games. This represents about 15% of the 1,060 planned gaming positions.

• The HVAC system will be designed to have positive pressure that will expel air from the building when doors are opened. This will prevent outside air, including air from the smoking patio, from entering.

• The HVAC units will be located on the west-side of the roof, which places them away from the smoking patio, minimizing the possibility that air from the smoking patio would be drawn into the building system.

• Large ceiling fans to circulate air and exhaust fans to discharge air from the space.

• Overhead radiant heaters will be installed to moderate temperatures in the winter.

Developers say the design is consistent with what has been provided for smokers at casinos in Ohio including Northfield Park and Cincinnati.

“It is extremely important to Hard Rock International that each and every guest that enters the Rocksino feels welcome," said Jon Lucas, chief operating officer Hard Rock International.

"Our brand represents the best in the gaming industry, and we do that through safety, customer service and being receptive to the needs of our guests. We look forward to the future in Terre Haute."

The Indiana Gaming Commission approved the transition of the Vigo County license to Spectacle Jack during its business meeting May 15.

Both Gibson and Lucas spoke about the future of the Rocksino and its economic meaning to both Terre Haute and Indiana, including its expected one million visitors a year to the area.

"I’m pleased to see Spectacle Jack and Hard Rock International work through a process that led them to this result," said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett.

"I recognize this wasn’t an easy business decision and one that took much thought and process. I believe it will be this type of approach that will set the stage for a promising future. The Terre Haute community has so much to gain from this opportunity."

Chances and Services for Youth, Tobacco Free Vigo and Tobacco Prevention and Cessation of Sullivan County in a joint statement Friday said they are "thrilled to have the first casino in the state of Indiana to open smoke-free."

“I appreciate the investments and the commitment Greg Gibson has made to ensure our workers can continue to enjoy a better quality of life and a healthier Vigo County,” said Brandon Halleck, chief operating officer of CASY.

The Rocksino is on track for a fall groundbreaking. Architects and engineers are preparing the building permits.

Reporter Alex Modesitt can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at alex.modesitt@tribstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarAlex.

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