Hard Rock Terre Haute casino project license not renewed; new deadline for Gary's venue | Yogonet International
The Indiana Gaming Commission gave owner Spectacle until July 23 to comply with its standards

Hard Rock Terre Haute casino project license not renewed; new deadline for Gary's venue

IGC argued that Spectacle Entertainment lacks a full executive team and an industry recognized corporate structure, and has several shareholders refusing to comply with IGC integrity rules.
2021-06-25
United States
Reading time 3:06 min
The IGC on Thursday decided to postpone addressing Spectacle's deficiencies by taking action against the Gary casino owner's license. As for the Terre Haute plans, commissioners argued gaming license holder Lucy Luck hasn’t hired an executive team to run the casino, and that full financing has yet to be secured. It will reopen the license application process, and Lucy Luck can reapply.

The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) on Thursday voted not to renew a gaming license for a planned new Hard Rock casino in Terre Haute that has already faced delays and forced ownership changes. The regulators also decided that the recently opened Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in Gary should continue operating on an interim license renewal while owner Spectacle Entertainment works to come into compliance with IGC standards.

In the first case, commissioners argued gaming license holder Lucy Luck hasn’t hired an executive team to run the casino, and that full financing has yet to be secured. “We’re now a year and a half into this process and still talking about things that are prospective in nature,” said Sarah Tait, the commission’s executive director, the Associated Press reports.

The commission ordered staff to reopen the license application process for a 90-day period, and noted that Lucy Luck can reapply but that it must work out its deficiencies.

The casino’s groundbreaking was slated to begin in late June or early July, with an opening by fall 2022, but the commission put off voting to renew the license, saying they wanted to see more financial information from Lucy Luck’s partners first.

Hard Rock International executive Jon Lucas told the Indiana Gaming Commission in May that the company had reached an agreement with Lucy Luck Gaming, the new casino’s ownership group, to operate the new facility near Interstate 70 on Terre Haute’s east side. Hard Rock also operates a casino that opened in Gary last month.

A year ago, casino officials outlined a plan to open the Terre Haute facility in September 2021, but the commission forced two top executives to give up their ownership stakes in the project last year amid investigations into allegations of financial wrongdoings. Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson took over leadership of the project. Murray Clark, an Indianapolis attorney for Lucy Luck, told the Gaming Commission that Gibson had negotiated project financing commitments with a consortium of five Indiana banks that expire June 30.

“I am deeply disappointed in what came from today’s meeting,” Gibson said in a statement Thursday. “As for Lucy Luck, we may reapply, but I’m not sure if we will. Terre Haute deserves this casino, and I wish it could be alongside Lucy Luck Gaming.”

The group projected the casino would hire 600 employees and earn $120 million in its first year. The facility’s plans included a $170 million "Rocksino" casino with 850 slot machines and 35 table games — or about half the gaming positions as the Gary casino — along with a steakhouse, Hard Rock Cafe, food hall, and a 250-seat venue for live performances and other events. The Terre Haute casino would be the state’s 13th and the first in Indiana since 2008.

Deadline for Hard Rock Northern Indiana

The parent company of the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana has until July 23 to comply with IGC stantards to avoid potentially being subject to one of the severest actions available to the Indiana Gaming Commission.

According to IGC staff, Spectacle Entertainment lacks a full executive team and an industry recognized corporate structure, has several shareholders refusing to comply with IGC integrity rules, as well as other suitability issues linked to possible derogatory information involving former Spectacle executives.

"The fundamental basics of a casino company are not present," said Sara Tait, The Times of Northwest Indiana reports. At the same time, the Hard Rock Casino is open and operating in Gary thanks to Spectacle's management agreement with Hard Rock International, which also owns a portion of the Gary casino separate from Spectacle.

That spurred the IGC on Thursday to postpone addressing Spectacle's deficiencies by taking action against the Gary casino owner's license, since a casino cannot operate in Indiana without a valid IGC license. Instead, the IGC agreed the Hard Rock Casino should continue operating on an interim license renewal while Spectacle works to come into compliance with IGC standards.

"If we were forced to act on this matter today, I don't think it would be a good outcome based on what we've heard from staff and from the commissioners," said Michael McMains, IGC chairman.

The IGC demonstrated that's no idle threat by unanimously voting to deny a casino owner's license renewal for Lucy Luck Gaming, which was developing a Terre Haute casino and has many of the same investors as Spectacle, including majority shareholder Greg Gibson.

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