Terre Haute casino

Full House sues Indiana Gaming Commission over Vigo casino license awarded to Churchill Downs

Indiana Gaming Commission's public hearing on Nov. 17, when the Vigo County casino license was awarded.
Reading time 2:12 min

Full House Resorts is suing the Indiana Gaming Commission over a Vigo County casino license. The gaming company is asking the state, which awarded the available Vigo County license to Churchill Downs on November 17, to nullify the decision.

The complaint was filed last Friday afternoon, in Marion County Superior Court 2, in Indianapolis, reports Tribune-Star. It argues the hearing contravened Indiana’s Open Door Law because the Gaming Commission adjourned into an executive session to discuss the proposals in the middle of the hearing.

Indiana codes cited by the lawsuit state “A governing body may not conduct an executive session during a meeting.” After the mid-Hearing executive session, “which contravenes the Open Door Law, the Commission returned to the Hearing,” the complaint reads.

"Without any public debate, comment, discussion or explanation, the Commission voted to deny Full House's application and grant Churchill's application," claims Full House Resorts in its lawsuit. The company also suggests in its complaint that it proposed a more desirable package.

"Full House spent great time and expense to secure a highly visible site that approximately 11 million cars pass annually,” claims the business in the lawsuit, according to the previously cited source. “Full House's destination complex was designed to essentially be a billboard to the millions of cars that drive by its site."

The complaint further describes Churchill Downs’ proposal as a far less visible site, off the freeway on U.S. 41, near a county jail and sewage treatment site. The casino would feature a rooftop bar overlooking both venues.

Churchill Downs' proposed Queen of Terre Haute casino in Vigo County.

"The nature of a sewage treatment plant in such close proximity to a public entertainment venue is counter-intuitive to any prudent, rational individual; the same can be said for locating an entertainment venue near a county jail,” Full House argues. 

But the casino company also says Churchill Downs’ raising the possibility of an alternative site violates the licensing rules. This was featured in an appendix presented to the Commission, which Full House says “was not publicly presented.”

It included “an illegal second location” for the casino that Churchill allegedly did not have under contract, near the Terre Haute airport. “Churchill's proposal of multiple and amorphous sites should have disqualified its proposal from consideration because Indiana law required one location to be provided in the application,” says Full House.

The lawsuit asks the court to find that, in awarding the license to Churchill Downs, the commission violated the Open Door Law. Thus, the company says, the decision to deny Full House’s application and grant Churchill Downs’ application should be voided, and the awarding of the license to Churchill Downs should be prohibited.

Full House’s proposal called for the development of American Place, a $250 million casino to be located on 32 acres at 5995, E. Margaret Avenue, near the Interstate 70 and U.S. 40/Indiana 46 intersection. It would feature a 100,000-square foot casino, with 1,000 slots, 50 gaming tables, and a 100-room hotel.

Meanwhile, Churchill Downs’ the Queen of Terre Haute proposal was for a $190 million 10-story, 125-room hotel atop a casino, near Haute City Center. It is set to feature 1,000 slot machines, 50 game tables, and a TwinSpires sportsbook.

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