Gibson shows hand on desired casino location

The comment was revealing, although a surprise to no one.

"I'd like it to go right out there," said Greg Gibson, Terre Haute business developer and aspiring owner of a new casino.

Gibson was attending Monday's ribbon-cutting of the new Home2Suites by Hilton extended-stay hotel on the city's east side when asked if he'd like to see a casino located nearby. He was pointing to an area just north of the hotel, and there's no doubt that property has been part of casino plans since he became a partner in Spectacle Entertainment.

The Indiana General Assembly adopted, and the governor signed, a new gaming law that will allow for a casino license in Vigo County if it passes a voter referendum. The Gaming Commission has the authority to award the license to the casino operator it deems best. Spectacle will definitely put itself in the running.

Gibson has been developing properties in and around Terre Haute for more than a decade. He spearheaded development of the two downtown hotels and the Holiday Inn Express at Interstate 70 and Indiana 46. The Home2Suites hotel is located near the Holiday Inn Express. He also helped develop the commercial corridor along Indiana 46 and the apartment complex behind it.

The redesigned state highway passing under I-70 and the new-terrain Indiana 641 that connects it to U.S. 41 south of Terre Haute was always destined to spur more development. That area of the city and county would certainly be a prime location for an entertainment venue such as a casino.

When Spectacle Entertainment first proposed moving one of its casino licenses from Gary to Terre Haute, it created a splashy artist's rendering of what a gaming venue might look like here. Another building in the rendering was, you guessed it, a Home2Suites hotel.

Spectacle got a lot of what it wanted out the legislature this past session, but it didn't get everything. Gibson and his Spectacle partner can't just move their gaming license from Gary to Terre Haute. While a new license was created for Vigo County, Spectacle doesn't automatically get it. Only the Gaming Commission can award the license. While Spectacle will seek the license, it may not be the only gaming venture that does so.

And, of course, all of this will be subject to the will of the voters. The casino referendum could be on a countywide ballot as early as this fall.

No one knows for sure how the deck will shuffle out. Terre Haute and Vigo County, however, are firmly in the game.

Published editorials are the collective opinion of the Tribune-Star's Editorial Board and are independent of the newspaper's news gathering and coverage.