Hard Rock Ends Indiana Casino Debacle By Purchasing Spectacle Entertainment

Posted on August 19, 2021

Hard Rock International will be running the show at the Hard Rock Casino in Gary, Indiana from now on.

Up until now, Spectacle Entertainment has been in charge of operations at the casino.

Hard Rock International is now taking over full control of the property thanks to the never-ending fallout from the Spectacle Entertainment scandal.

The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) approved the change at its recent meeting.

Hard Rock buys Spectacle Entertainment

Spectacle has been causing all sorts of problems ever since the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana project began.

Some of Spectacle’s former executives were allegedly involved in a political money funneling scheme. That led to the IGC forcing those executives to resign.

The forced resignation led to even more roadblocks. The IGC created new rules to try and avoid similar situations going forward.

Those new rules began forcing casino owners in Indiana to disclose detailed financial background information.

The argument from the IGC’s side was that thorough background checks would help avoid future financial scandals. The casino owners didn’t see it that way.

A handful of Spectacle’s minority owners tried to sue the IGC to overturn the rule, but a judge ended up siding with the commission.

That left the minority owners with two choices: either provide the financial info or sell their stakes in the company. They chose the latter.

Since Hard Rock International was already a major partner in the Gary Casino, it made sense for the company to buy out the Spectacle shares.

Hard Rock now owns at least 85% of Spectacle Entertainment, and is the only company that gets a say in the casino’s future going forward.

That solves some major problems for the casino, which failed to renew its license back in June because of the non-compliant minority owners.

All things considered, Hard Rock is probably relieved to wipe its hands of Spectacle’s problems. It didn’t exactly live up to the expectations that Hard Rock had for it when their casino partnership began.

The dust might finally be settling for Gary’s Hard Rock Casino, but its sister property in Terre Haute still has some weeds to clear.

Terre Haute Hard Rock Casino problems

The Hard Rock Casino in Terre Haute still has some problems of its own to sort out.

Lucy Luck Gaming, the property’s parent company, also failed to renew its casino license back in June. Lucy Luck fell short because, after an entire year, the company still hadn’t put a plan together for a management team.

So what took them so long? That financial background rule played its part.

Much like the minority owners of Spectacle, the smaller owners of Lucy Luck didn’t want to submit background information either.

The entire process has taken over a year and a half at this point. That has led to huge delays for the Terre Haute casino, which was originally hoping to open in fall 2021.

The IGC felt that this delay was unacceptable, and ended up stripping Lucy Luck from the project altogether.

The Hard Rock brand is still involved in the yet-to-be-constructed Terre Haute casino, but with Lucy Luck out of the picture, it now needs a new partner to step in and run the building.

The IGC is taking applications for new companies to step in until Sept. 22.

Lucy Luck can still reapply for its old spot. However, there’s no guarantee that the IGC will give it back to them.

There’s also a chance that Hard Rock will end up repeating its move from Gary and just run the casino on its own.

“We have an agreement in Terre Haute, so we’re willing to honor that if it comes to that,” Hard Rock COO Jon Lucas told the IGC about potentially taking over.

The IGC will be meeting again shortly after that September deadline, so we’ll know the commission’s full plans for the Indiana casino before long.

Photo by Associated Press
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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.

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