Thieves, Pandemic Delay Grand Opening Of Hard Rock Casino In Gary Until 2021

Posted on June 11, 2020

Construction at the new Hard Rock Casino in Gary, Indiana, is now running behind schedule.

Spectacle Entertainment started construction on the new “Rocksino” in January. The Jackson family even returned to their hometown for the groundbreaking.

Initially, Spectacle was hoping for a New Year’s Eve grand opening. Now the plans for the Dec. 31 blowout will have to wait until 2021.

John Keeler, the vice president of Spectacle Entertainment, is hoping to have the casino ready to open by early next year.

“The Dec. 31 opening, frankly, that’s not going to happen. That’s just the way things go. I think it would be safer to say sometime in the first quarter; it just depends.”

So, even with some unexpected hiccups, Hard Rock’s grand opening is still on the horizon.

COVID-19, thieves delay construction

Even though running into construction delays is much more of the norm than the exception for big projects, Hard Rock Casino’s situation is still definitely a rare one.

The US was not prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. Spectacle became one of the many companies to be impacted by the health crisis.

When businesses began shutting down in March, construction at Hard Rock stopped temporarily. With all the equipment locked away in trailers, there wasn’t much going on at the construction site.

That is, until a group of thieves took notice of the stationary equipment.

Sometime over the weekend of March 27, thieves broke into the trailers and ran off with around $25,000 worth of equipment. They took concrete cutters, generators and other sets of tools. It wasn’t until the workers returned that it was realized that equipment was missing. But by then, the equipment was long gone, and construction couldn’t resume until it was replaced.

The workers also had trouble clearing the land so they could start building. A lot of the area was a junkyard, so it took some time to clear out old tires and other trash around the site.

With all those delays, it became apparent that construction wasn’t going to finish on the original timeline.

New ‘Rocksino’ will replace Majestic Star

Right now, Gary is home to the Majestic Star and Majestic Star II casinos. Spectacle Entertainment owns the pair of aging riverboats and is working on replacing the duo.

The casino license from Majestic Star is transferring over to Hard Rock in Gary. On the other hand, Majestic Star II’s license will eventually transfer over to a Hard Rock being built near Terre Haute.

The Indiana Gaming Commission just approved the plans for Terre Haute’s “Rocksino” in May, so it will be a while before construction even starts on the project. Hard Rock in Gary should be open for business in early 2021, but Terre Haute’s won’t be opening until later that fall.

Regardless of the timelines, gamblers will have two new Hard Rock-branded casinos to visit soon in the Hoosier State.

Since Gary is so close to the Illinois border, the casino will likely draw some extra visitors from out of state, including the Chicago area. That’s a geographic advantage that Ameristar East Chicago and Horseshoe Hammond have been enjoying for years.

Now that Illinois has legal sports betting, that advantage might not last forever. But at least for the time being, casinos near the border will try to make the most of it.

It may take a little longer than Spectacle had originally planned, but once Hard Rock Casino in Gary opens, it’ll be a destination in the area for years to come.

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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.

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