County Officials Voice Support For Hard Rock Terre Haute Casino Bid

Posted on October 14, 2021

We have a new look at the potential plans for Terre Haute’s casino thanks to the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC).

The commission recently released some new details showing off each of the four plans for the property.

However, county officials have voiced support for one bid in particular.

New Terre Haute casino plans

Four different companies applied for the rights to Terre Haute’s casino license.

Hard Rock and Lucy Luck Gaming originally controlled the project, that is, before the IGC gave them the boot for taking too long.

Hard Rock reapplied for the job, but now it has three new competitors to beat out. It was the lone applicant for the original license back in 2019.

The following companies all want to run the show at Terre Haute’s casino:

  • CDITHLLC (Churchill Downs)
  • FHR-Atlas LLC (Full House Resorts, Inc.)
  • HR Terre Haute, LLC (Hard Rock)
  • Terre Haute EntertainmentLLC (Premier Gaming Group and Terre Haute Entertainment Holdings LLC)

The gaming commission will announce the winning company at its meeting on Nov. 17.

Full House Resorts American Place

Full House Resorts is trying to double down on Indiana gaming.

The company already owns Rising Start Casino in southern Indiana, and now it wants to take the wheel at Terre Haute’s casino.

Full House will name the 100,000 square foot casino “American Place” if it ends up receiving the license. The casino would be located at 5995 Margaret Avenue, Terre Haute, Indiana 47803.

As far as projections go, the company is expecting 8 million gamblers to visit the casino in the first five years.

American Place also plans to create 800 permanent jobs, and 1,800 temporary construction jobs.

When it’s all said and done, the $250 million project would include 1,000 slot machines, 50 table games, and over 100 hotel rooms for guests.

Should it win the gaming license from the IGC, Full House will be opening a temporary casino in the former Macy’s store on Terre Haute’s east side.

The smaller gaming spot would open in early summer 2022, and it would hold down the fort for two years while the main building is under construction.

Churchill Downs Queen of Terre Haute

If Churchill Downs has its way, “Queen of Terre Haute” will be opening up for business near the Haute City Shopping Mall.

Churchill does not own any of the casinos in Indiana, so this would be a big step for the company in the Hoosier State.

Just like Full House, Churchill plans to have 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games at the casino.

However, a key difference between both properties will be size and staffing.

Queen of Terre Haute will be nearly 400,000 square feet, almost quadruple the size of American Place. It’s by far the largest proposed plan for Terre Haute’s casino.

About 270,000 square feet of the property will be devoted to “non-gaming” space.

Despite the massive size increase, Chuchill’s casino would have far fewer employees operating it. It projects 500 permanent jobs compared to Full House’s 800.

Premier Gaming Casino

Premier Gaming’s plan is the smallest out of the four. That isn’t a huge shock considering that Premier is the smallest company going after the casino license.

Premier’s Terre Haute casino would only feature 800 slot machines and 20 table games. It expects to create 400 permanent jobs and 250-300 temporary ones for construction.

The company doesn’t have a name for its potential casino yet.

However, it does have a location picked out. The property would be built near the interchange of Interstate Highway 70 and State Road 46.

That site is important because it leaves Premier with room to grow.

The company’s casino would only offer 60,000 square feet of space at first, but that likely wouldn’t remain the case forever. Premier’s plan specifically mentions including space for “future phases” of the project that could potentially expand the casino later on.

Hard Rock Casino Terre Haute

Hard Rock is looking for its second big Indiana win of 2021.

The company opened Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in Gary earlier this year. Now, it wants to bring that property’s sister “Rocksino” to Terre Haute.

The Rocksino would be smaller than American Place or Queen or Terre Haute, but larger than Premier’s potential property.

Interestingly enough, Hard Rock did not submit very many details about its Rocksino for the IGC’s latest report.

However, it’s probably safe to assume that the company will be running with its original plans for the property.

After all, Hard Rock has been working on Terre Haute casino plans for nearly two years now. Its entire pitch for the casino license rests upon the idea that the company is already prepared to start construction.

Changing up the plans now would be taking away Hard Rock’s main advantage.

The Rocksino would go up at 2555 Joe Fox Street, Terre Haute, IN, 47803. If you’re not super familiar with the area, that’s right next to the interchange of I-70 and State Road 40.

Hard Rock’s plan would provide 674 permanent jobs, but it’s taking things further when it comes to construction.

The Rocksino is way behind schedule. Before the Spectacle scandal, the casino was going to open for business in fall 2021. Obviously, that timeline is way out of the question now.

To help avoid further delays, Hard Rock plans to deploy over 2,000 construction workers to try and finish the project quickly.

Terre Haute officials prefer Hard Rock

All four companies have a plan for Terre Haute’s casino, but those plans don’t actually matter until someone wins the gaming license.

Hard Rock has a distinct advantage that its competitors are missing.

Even though Lucy Luck Gaming lost out on the original license, its owner, local businessman Greg Gibson, is still a partner in the Hard Rock project.

His strong local connections have helped the Hard Rock garner community support for its bid, and that something its competitors can’t tap into.

Local officials in Terre Haute reportedly prefer that Hard Rock ends up winning the casino license. The Vigo County Council even sent a letter to the IGC voicing their support for Gibson and company.

That’s a strong vote of confidence for Hard Rock’s application, but it might not be enough to overcome the IGC’s previous frustrations with Gibson and Lucy Luck.

Hard Rock is still in the mix for Terre Haute’s casino. Terre Haute will have a new gaming spot before long regardless of which company wins the bid.

This will likely be the last new Indiana casino to open for many years, so Terre Haute’s situation holds some extra importance. This is a rare chance to jump into a red hot gambling market, so each company has a lot riding on the IGC’s Nov. 17 announcement.

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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