Churchill Downs Wins License To Build Casino In Terre Haute

Posted on November 17, 2021

Churchill Downs just won the rights to build “Queen of Terre Haute” Casino in Vigo County. The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) voted to approve the project at its Wednesday meeting.

If everything goes according to plan, the casino should open for business sometime in 2023.

Queen of Terre Haute will be the last new casino in Indiana for years to come.

Churchill Downs beats out Hard Rock

With a gaming license in hand, Chuchill Downs can finally move forward with its plan to build a casino in Terre Haute.

Lucy Luck Gaming originally owned the license before the IGC stripped them from the project earlier this year. The company planned to run the day-to-day operations at the casino while Hard Rock would have provided the branding.

Lucy Luck offered the IGC a settlement to try and reclaim the license, but the commission shot that idea down on Monday. That didn’t bode well for Hard Rock’s bid for the license.

Lucy Luck is appealing the loss, but that process is still ongoing.

Technically, the IGC gave Churchill a Certificate of Suitability at today’s meeting. The commission is waiting to officially hand out the license until Lucy Luck’s appeal is finished.

Churchill had to beat out three other companies in order to stake its claim to Vigo County gambling.

  • FHR-Atlas LLC (Full House Resorts, Inc.)
  • HR Terre Haute, LLC (Hard Rock)
  • Terre Haute EntertainmentLLC (Premier Gaming Group and Terre Haute Entertainment Holdings LLC)

Hard Rock may have been the favorite throughout this entire process.

Local officials in Terre Haute were rooting for the company to win back the rights to the casino. That’s an advantage that none of the other applicants had.

Despite that, Churchill managed to come out on top of the process.

Queen of Terre Haute coming soon

Churchill is best known for the Kentucky Derby, but now the company is making its mark on Indiana.

Queen of Terre Haute should redefine gaming in Vigo County.

The company will be building the casino on 21 acres of undeveloped land on Honey Creek Drive. That’s a bit west of the Haute City Shopping Mall if you’re not familiar with the area.

Queen of Terre Haute plans to create over 400 new full-time jobs in Terre Haute, plus an additional 1,000 construction jobs.

The $239 million casino will be Churchill’s first gaming property in Indiana.

Relief for Terre Haute residents

It’s been a long road to get here, but residents of Terre Haute finally have some answers.

Vigo County originally started this process back in 2019. Hard Rock and Lucy Luck were the only applicants for the operating license at the time.

There have been all sorts of delays for the project since then.

A scandal involving Lucy Luck’s former parent company caused problems. Toss in the numerous roadblocks from the pandemic, and things are way behind schedule in Terre Haute.

Everything has been on pause since the IGC removed Lucy Luck from the project back in June.

However, things can finally move forward now that Churchill owns the casino operating license.

That will come as a relief for residents of Terre Haute that have been patiently waiting for some progress. Queen of Terre Haute should be a destination in the city for years to come once it finally opens.

Photo by Dreamstime
Jake Garza Avatar
Written by
Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

View all posts by Jake Garza