Casino front view rendering

Front view: This is a photo of a rendering of the exterior of a proposed new Rocksino by Hard Rock in Terre Haute.

The three-member Vigo County Board of Commissioners this morning unanimously approved a local development agreement, which is one of the state requirements for a proposed Terre Haute casino.

It was the only local development agreement submitted to the county, said Commissioner Brad Anderson.

The agreement calls for Spectacle Entertainment to pay about $3 million based on $100 million adjusted gross receipts. Additionally, the proposed agreement calls for a payment equal to 3 percent of the company’s net commission received from any sports wagering vendor.

The payments, according to the proposed agreement with Spectacle Jack LLC, the casino ownership group, would be made monthly.

Spectacle Entertainment Vice President John Keeler said he will hand deliver today to the Indiana Gaming Commission two large binders with Spectacle Entertainment's proposal for a license. The proposals are not made online, Keeler said.

Commissioner Brendan Kearns made the motion to approve the agreement, saying the agreement presented last week during a county commissioner meeting was "not on the agenda before I left" for a Thanksgiving weekend trip with his family.

Kearns said he reviewed several, but not all of the 13 local development agreements in the state, but focused on key points in agreements from 2000 to the present.

"Personally, I appreciate the opportunity to get extra money from this venture for our community," Kearns said. "Personally, I am an advocate from the mental health issues and homeless issues and I would like see some of this money go toward those efforts here in our community. We all have our own special interests collectively, but we all are here for the benefit of Vigo County and its future."

Commissioner Judith Anderson questioned why the local development agreement was being done with the county, instead of the city, which Anderson said would receive the bulk of funds from the proposed casino.

County Attorney Michael Wright said state law dictated the local development agreement would be negotiated and executed with county commissioners.

Spectacle's Keeler told commissioners that while the bill was moving through the Indiana General Assembly, no location was determined for the casino.

"There is no requirement that the casino be located within the city," Keeler said. "At the time the legislation passed, House Rule Act 1015, it was an open question of where it would be, it just had to be somewhere in Vigo County. So there is no historical perspective on a municipality of where it would be located."

Commissioner President Brad Anderson, after the meeting, said commissioners had to work quickly on the local development agreement after a referendum approved a casino in the county, as proposals are to be submitted today (Dec. 2) with the Indiana Gaming Commission.

"When you only have one group that has filed an local development agreement with you, you don't have much competition, so, you kind of go along with this," Anderson said. The agreement calls for the establishment of a non-profit Indiana foundation -- called the Vigo County Community Improvement Foundation Inc. -- to distribute the funds according to a community plan through the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce.

The foundation would be governed by five directors, each of whom must be a registered voter in the county.

Members would include one member of the Terre Haute City Council appointed by the mayor of Terre Haute; one member of the Vigo County Council appointed by the president of the Vigo County Board of Commissioners; one member appointed by the president of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce; and two members appointed by Spectacle Jack LLC.

"I think it will great for the community. It will bring some more money into the community. We hope this (non-profit foundation) will help with grant money, matching money for the county, city and even some organizations that could use help that right now we are trying to support through county government," Anderson said.

"Maybe we will be able to help those people out so we are not paying as much out of county government," he said. "It is still a year or two away, but I am sure there will be some changes. The Indiana Gaming Commission still has to approve this. I think as we work through this, we will be able to set up some things" through the non-profit foundation.

Anderson said the foundation can help with matching money, pointing out towns such as Riley and West Terre Haute often do not have money for matching money for grants. By providing that match, improvements can be made in towns or other areas of the county, the commissioner said.

Keeler has said the casino would be called the “Rocksino by Hard Rock,” be 100,000 square feet and employ about 600 workers if the company is awarded the state casino license.

The Rocksino would include sports betting, a 300-seat entertainment theater called The Velvet Lounge, a buffet, a cafe, bars, a steak house and other features, Keeler said.

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

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