Tribune-Star Editorial graphic

Terre Haute fortunate to have allegiance, commitment of Gibson

The prospect of a casino coming to Terre Haute always packed a substantial economic benefit to the community. That impact holds even greater significance now.

A pandemic has staggered the American economy. The blow has been felt significantly in Indiana and the Wabash Valley. The region has a heavy dependency on jobs in the service and manufacturing industries, and many local employers in those fields have idled operations under statewide shutdowns in Indiana and Illinois that began in March to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Lots of Terre Haute area residents have endured layoffs, some temporary, others permanent.

Terre Haute traditionally lags more affluent Hoosier metros in employment development and growth, but many of those places would undoubtedly envy the influx of economic activity the planned Rocksino will bring to the Wabash Valley. Opportunity and hope for more prosperous times awaits Terre Haute at a moment otherwise filled with questions and uncertainty.

The $120-million casino project by Terre Haute businessman and philanthropist Greg Gibson got approval from the Indiana Gaming Commission on May 15. Gibson moved into the sole leadership role of the project after two executives from Spectacle Entertainment took a buyout from Gibson's company, Spectacle Jack, earlier this year. The Terre Haute casino project had stalled earlier this year, when the Gaming Commission began investigating the possible involvement of the Spectacle Entertainment executives in a federal case related to a congressional campaign violation. The Gaming Commission chairman said the buyout of those individuals cleared the way for the casino to move ahead, with Gibson and Spectacle Jack LLC leading the effort.

That decision is beyond good news.

Groundbreaking is expected this September. The Rocksino is expected to open in September 2021.

The 100,000-square-foot facility will bring a total of 1,300 jobs to the region, including the shorter-term constuction work. The construction will cover 16 months to complete all elements of the complex. It will include the 1,200-game casino, with four restaurants, four bars, a walkway to the Home2Suites hotel, and another future hotel.

Terre Haute gains valuable brand identity through the venture. The Rocksino falls under the Hard Rock International umbrella, and the amenities that will surround the casino's gaming floor will include a Hard Rock Cafe, a well-known and popular destination name known worldwide. The cafe will feature, among a variety of assets, a 300-seat entertainment venue, Velvet Sessions, prepared to host live music and comedy events, as well as poker tournaments, business gatherings, receptions and weddings.

The entire business can serve up to 5,900 people at a time, and is projected to draw 1.2 million guests a year.

Such a significant economic jolt could not be more timely.

Gibson's commitment to his hometown is a blessing. It is an investment of his resources and his confidence in the small Indiana city, where he grew up. To say the Wabash Valley is fortunate to have Gibson's financial and spiritual allegiance is an understatement.

The Rocksino will be employing Terre Haute residents, and drawing visitors from the region, long after the coronavirus pandemic has been alleviated through a vaccine, effective treaments or both. Because of Gibson's project and tenacity through plenty of complications, this community can look forward to a tangibly brighter day.

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