Researcher Outlines New Terre Haute Casino’s Potential Economic Success

Posted on December 21, 2023

Construction on Indiana’s newest casino is approaching the finish line. The Terre Haute Casino Resort remains on schedule to open in the spring of 2024.

The $290 million Churchill Downs project was approved by the Indiana Gaming Commission in November 2021. It will be the 13th (or 14th) casino in the state.

Indiana online casinos are not legal, so gamblers in the state only have retail options at the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos. And those retail casinos are one of the primary money makers for the state. One researcher says the economic impact of the new Terre Haute casino will depend on multiple factors. However, he believes the venue does have a path to success.

Economic impact of Terre Haute Casino will rely on tourism and staffing

Adam Scavette is a regional economist who studies the economic impact of casinos. He recently spoke with Indiana Public Media about the potential economic impact the new Terre Haute casino could have in Indiana.

Scavette says regional tourism will significantly influence the casino’s success. He says larger casinos, like in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, bring in outside revenue from tourists. Meanwhile, most casinos in the Midwest cater to regional markets by targeting the locals. However, he did caution that this tactic may not necessarily generate new customers as opposed to just taking them away from one of the other casinos in the state.

“So in Indiana, they wouldn’t have a statewide monopoly, but maybe they would have a county monopoly on gambling,” said Scavette. “So you’re not necessarily generating more tax revenue for the state, if it’s just substituting away from your previous spending habits.”

Scavette also noted that the hiring process at the casino will be important. He says more people being hired from out of town could mean an increase in the demand for services, which can boost the economy. However, he said that an increase can also mean a hike in the cost of living and housing prices for locals.

The Terre Haute casino is expected to bring around 500 full and part-time jobs to the community. The company has held several job fairs locally in recent months, looking to fill many positions ahead of a spring 2024 grand opening. Open positions include:

  • Dealers
  • Management
  • Security
  • Food and beverage
  • Housekeeping

Projecting revenue for Terre Haute by looking at comparable Indiana casinos

Upon its completion, the $290 million Terre Haute Casino will feature a 56,000-square-foot gaming floor with 1,000 slots and video poker machines to go along with 35 table games.

These figures will make Terre Haute one of the smallest casinos in the state. However, it will be comparable to other casinos, like Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago and Bally’s Evansville. So, we can try to estimate how much money Terre Haute can generate.

Ameristar Casino has over 1,100 slots and 44 table games. That’s slightly more than what’s expected to be inside Terre Haute Casino. In November, Ameristar Casino generated over $11.6 million in Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). Ameristar is also close to Illinois and only about a 35-minute drive from Downtown Chicago. However, Illinois has its own casinos, so it’s unlikely that there is a sizeable cross-state customer base.

Meanwhile, Bally’s Evansville has 940 slots and 28 table games, which is less than what’s expected to be inside Terre Haute. Regardless, Bally’s was still able to generate over $12.7 million in AGR during November. Of course, Bally’s greatly benefits from its proximity to Kentucky, where commercial casino gambling remains illegal.

Terre Haute will sit on the I-70 between Saint Louis and Indianapolis. The casino’s size seems to be a good fit for the combination of its interstate traffic and the nearly 60,000 Terre Haute residents. If the casino can generate numbers comparable to Ameristar and Bally’s, it will slide right into the middle of the pack in the Indiana casino market.

Photo by Terre Haute Casino Resort
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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at PlayIndiana. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino, sports betting and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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