Churchill Downs Incorporated broke ground on the new Queen of Terre Haute Casino Resort in Vigo County, Indiana on Tuesday. The gaming and entertainment venue, located on a 50-acre site is scheduled to be finished in 18 months.
The $260 million investment will feature a 400,000-square-foot casino building with 56,000 square feet of gaming space that includes 1,000 slots and 50 table games, as well as a 125-room hotel, a TwinSpires sportsbook, a steakhouse, a rooftop bar, among other amenities detailed in earlier plans. The project is expected to create 500 jobs and generate an annual economic impact of $190 million.
The Indiana Gaming Commission selected Churchill Downs Incorporated’s (CDI) application for a casino license in Vigo County in November 2021. The Kentucky Derby operator, which in February filed an application with the Vigo County Area Planning Department to rezone approximately 49 acres located on East Margaret Drive, just west of State Road 46, was greenlighted by the Indiana Gaming Commission in March for the relocation from the west side of the city to a highway-adjacent location on the east.
Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated, said CDI has been looking for opportunities in Indiana for years. "We've looked at opportunities as they come available, and we finally found one that fits for us," he said adding that the bidding process was very competitive and that if a company is an out-of-town company, such as Churchill Downs, it must work especially hard to build relationships with the community.
Furthermore, he explained that CDI is going to focus on regional and local contractors and find team members from the Terre Haute community. "Community first, and everything we do, from construction, to team members, to relationships," Carstanjen stated, as reported by Indiana Public Media.
Plans for a casino in Terre Haute were born in early 2019 when Governor Eric Holcomb signed House Enrolled Act 1015, which allowed for one of the two Majestic Star Casino licenses to be moved from Gary to Vigo County.
The original developer was Spectacle Jack LLC, a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment. The company was rebranded to Lucy Luck Gaming, run by Chairman Greg Gibson, after legal issues involving Spectacle Entertainment began to cause confusion.
In June 2021, the Indiana Gaming Commission unanimously voted to not renew the gaming license for Lucy Luck, claiming the company had not hired an executive team to run the casino and had not secured full financing. The IGC reopened applications for the license, and Churchill Downs was selected from a pool of five proposals, as reported by Inside Indiana Business.
According to Churchill Downs Incorporated’s CEO, the venue is expected to open in about 18 months.
This move is in line with the company's announcement in late February that it is exiting the online casino and sports betting businesses.