The Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana opened its doors to the public Friday, more than 20 years after former state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, first proposed land-based gaming in the Steel City, and some 16 months after construction started adjacent to eastbound Interstate 80/94 at the Burr Street exit.
The $300 million entertainment destination includes a casino with some 1,600 slot machines and 80 table games, five restaurants, including a Hard Rock Cafe, a 1,954-seat Hard Rock Live performance venue and an on-site sports book and gift shop.
It replaces the Majestic Star Casinos that operated on Lake Michigan from Gary's Buffington Harbor for the past 25 years. It's also the first land-based commercial casino in Indiana built away from its former dockside location.
The new casino is owned by an entity known as Spectacle Gary, which is a partnership between the privately held Spectacle Entertainment and Hard Rock International, a business enterprise of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Hard Rock is the casino operator.
Greg Gibson, primary owner of Spectacle Entertainment, said he initially got into the casino business to bring a casino to his hometown of Terre Haute — a process now underway through Lucy Luck Gaming using a second casino license formerly assigned to Gary.
The Hard Rock Casino is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Guests, including restaurant patrons, must be at least 21 years old to enter.