Top Stories In Indiana Gambling 2019: Hard Rock Coming

Posted on December 6, 2019

As 2019 comes to a close, we look back at the biggest gambling stories to come out of Indiana this year.

The story of legal sports betting in Indiana and its rapid early growth has captured much attention, for good reason. Another big story comes out of the same gambling expansion bill, HB 1015, signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in May.

One of the changes allowed under the bill is Spectacle Entertainment giving up one of its two casino licenses in order to move one of its Gary, Indiana-based casinos on land.

Spectacle then announced it would build a Hard Rock-branded and operated casino, which is scheduled to open by the end of 2020. The renderings suggest the casino will offer a first-class gaming and entertainment experience.

Spectacle made moves to make Hard Rock Gary a reality

Spectacle Entertainment announced the purchase of Majestic’s two Majestic Star casinos in late 2018. The deal officially closed in March.

HB 1015 originally called for a $100 million fee to allow Spectacle to move one of its casinos to land in Gary. That eventually was cut down to $20 million spread over five years.

The condition also came with forfeiting one of its casino licenses, though the company received $40 million in tax benefits. That license will eventually go to a new casino in Terre Haute.

Spectacle then announced its $400 million land-based casino would be of the Hard Rock brand. They also revealed the new casino would include a 200-room hotel and 2,764 gaming positions. Those positions are equal to a combined total of the two licenses Spectacle had previously, meaning the Hard Rock could become the biggest casino in the state.

The casino should open by New Year’s Eve 2020. The hotel will open two to three years later.

Controversy over Spectacle casino deal in Indiana

The gambling expansion bill didn’t pass without its share of controversy.

Local media questioned campaign donations and free flights for Gov. Eric Holcomb allegedly coming from Spectacle’s CEO. The free flights came from the Republican Governors Association, which technically made the contributions legal.

State law bans campaign contributions from casino interests.

Expect plenty of buildup to the Hard Rock grand opening in Indiana in the new year.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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