Former State Senator Admits To Role In Indiana Casino Scandal

Posted on April 13, 2022 - Last Updated on April 19, 2022

Former Indiana state Sen. Brent Waltz admitted to participating in a political money funneling scheme on Monday. That scheme was responsible for the Spectacle Entertainment casino scandal.

The entire debacle went on for months and ended up creating huge problems for Indiana gambling.

Waltz might have taken a plea agreement, but his alleged partner in the scheme is still going to trial next week.

Waltz takes plea agreement

As part of his deal with prosecutors, Waltz admitted to funneling $40,500 in illegal contributions to his unsuccessful campaign for congress back in 2015. He also admitted to making false statements to the FBI.

Each of those charges could run Waltz five years in prison, but he likely won’t receive harsh sentencing under his plea agreement.

Former Centaur Gaming executive John Keeler allegedly helped put the plan together. At the time, Centaur was operating Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand Casino.

Prosecutors say that Keeler and Centaur were responsible for supplying the illegal contributions.

Keeler allegedly ran the money through a Maryland political consultant to try and cover his tracks. Prosecutors say that the consultant then distributed the money to reimburse straw donors that contributed to Waltz’s campaign.

Centaur Gaming no longer exists, but many of its former executives were running the show at Spectacle Entertainment when the scheme came to light. At the time, Spectacle was gearing up to build Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.

Spectacle Jack, one of Spectacle Entertainment’s subsidiaries, was also getting the ball rolling on building a casino in Terre Haute.

The situation created massive problems for the state’s gambling industry.

Long story short, but a federal indictment for the duo and an investigation from the Indiana Gaming Commission eventually cleared things up.

Regardless, Waltz and Keeler’s alleged scheme caused all sorts of problems. The entire situation has been ongoing since January 2020, so it was hardly a quick hurdle for Indiana to clear.

The fallout from Indiana casino scandal

Things might finally be wrapping up now that Waltz has taken a deal and Keeler is heading to trial.

As far as Indiana is concerned, the situation has been mostly resolved for a while now.

Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana is open for business in Gary. Churchill Downs now controls the Terre Haute project, and the company is finally about to break ground on Queen of Terre Haute Casino.

Originally, Terre Haute’s casino was planning to be open for business by now. The fact that construction hasn’t even begun yet shows just how meddlesome the Spectacle scandal became.

The situation also bled into other gambling areas.

Indiana has been trying to legalize online casinos for two years now. That hasn’t worked out thanks to concerns about the scandal.

The scandal might be wrapped up in the Hoosier State, but it had far-reaching consequences that are still around today. Keeler’s trial might just be getting started, but at least the majority of Indiana gaming has been able to move on.

Photo by Dreamstime
Jake Garza Avatar
Written by
Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a sports writer based in Indianapolis, IN. He's an Indiana University graduate who's spent time as a sports reporter covering teams at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.

View all posts by Jake Garza