Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana

Posted on September 15, 2021

A judge has officially dismissed a lawsuit tied to Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.

A handful of minority owners from Spectacle Entertainment were trying to sue the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) over a new financial reporting rule.

Spectacle used to run the show at the Gary casino before Hard Rock International took things over last month.

Hard Rock Northern Indiana might be out of the woods for now, but the future is still up in the air for Terre Haute’s casino.

Spectacle owners fall back

Judge John Chavis may have dismissed the case, but it was actually the minority owners themselves that volunteered to bow out of the situation.

The entire point of the lawsuit was to avoid revealing financial background information to the gaming commission. That became a requirement for casino owners after the Spectacle Entertainment scandal.

The IGC argued that collecting background info would help prevent future corruption. The minority owners had concerns about their privacy rights.

Chavis had already sided with the IGC in a previous ruling. Pursuing the lawsuit further would have been an uphill battle for the owners.

The minority owners pumped the brakes on the legal battle, but the situation ending up catching the attention of a handful of lawmakers. Those officials are not happy with the IGC’s rule, and they might choose to make it an issue during next year’s legislative session.

At least for now, things will remain as they are. However, September is going to be a big month for its sister casino in Terre Haute.

Hard Rock Terre Haute deadline approaches

The Hard Rock Casino in Terre Haute has gone through a litany of problems since the project began. As always, it’s been one step forward and two steps back for the “Rocksino“.

Originally, the casino was hoping to open for business sometime this fall. However, construction hasn’t even begun on the project yet.

The pandemic put up some roadblocks, although things are mostly bogged down from the lack of a parent company these days.

Lucy Luck Gaming was originally going to operate the casino, but that may no longer be the case.

The IGC removed the company from the Hard Rock project back in June. Lucy Luck lost its shot at the casino because after over 18 months in charge, it hadn’t put together an executive management team to run the project.

Now, the IGC is accepting applications for a new company to step in and take things over. The deadline for those applications is Sept. 22, so things are starting to pick up steam here.

Lucy Luck can reapply for the license as long as it fits the IGC’s new list of requirements.

The casino’s future hangs in the balance, so the gaming commission will have some tough decisions to make coming up.

Greg Small takes the wheel at the IGC

The IGC has a new executive director at the helm now, and he’ll be in charge of handling all things related to the state’s Hard Rock Casinos.

Greg Small might be new to the position, but he’s not untested in the gaming world.

Small was the IGC’s general counsel up until former Director Sara Gonso Tait stepped down from the position. During that time, he helped deal directly with the lawsuit from Spectacle’s minority owners.

He’s very familiar with all things Spectacle and Lucy Luck, which should put him in a solid position to handle things in Terre Haute.

Regardless, selecting a new parent company for Vigo County’s Rocksino will be the first big assignment for Small in his new role.

The process is in motion. After next week, Terre Haute residents could finally have some good news about the casino project.

Photo by Dreamstime
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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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