IGC Investigation Puts BetIndiana Sportsbook Launch On Hold

Posted on March 11, 2020

Spectacle Entertainment’s plans for a new casino near Terre Haute are on hold.

Originally, the Indiana Gaming Commission had a meeting scheduled for Feb. 7 to possibly award Spectacle the new casino license.

However, the IGC postponed that meeting and started investigating Spectacle instead.

The commission has decided it needs more time to finish that investigation. There won’t be any new decisions made regarding that casino license at the IGC’s upcoming meeting on March 26.

Why is the IGC investigating Spectacle Entertainment?

It all leads back to a court case in Virginia.

In that case, Charles O’Neil pleaded guilty to funneling over $15,000 from Centaur Gaming into Brent Waltz’s political campaign in Indiana.

Waltz ran unsuccessfully for election in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District back in 2016.

That information became public in late January, which caused the IGC to postpone that February meeting.

Some of the officials involved with Centaur now own Spectacle Gaming, which has raised some red flags. However, the IGC doesn’t have the resources to launch a full investigation into breaches of federal law.

Since the commission can only do so much on its own, it will be relying a lot on what the federal government can uncover about the situation. As new developments come to light, the IGC plans to react to them accordingly.

In the meantime, it has hired former FBI agent Walt Stowe to help out with things. In addition to helping the IGC with its own investigation, Stowe will be helping the commission decide what steps to take next.

The IGC is pretty careful with the process of handing out new casino licenses. There’s no timetable for how long the investigation might take, but the state isn’t in any hurry.

Jenny Reske, the Deputy Director of the IGC, told the Tribune-Star that a decision on the casino license might not be made until early summer.

Reske believes that that type of delay is well worth the time it may take.

“It’s imperative to the commission that we protect and act in the best interest of casino host communities,” Reske said. “Ensuring that we have a reasonable timeline to discuss and act on a Terre Haute license is among our top priorities.”

Spectacle, Majestic Star, and BetIndiana

Spectacle purchased Majestic Star Casino and Majestic Star II back in 2018.

Since then, the company has been running both of the riverboats, which are based in Gary, Indiana.

However, the Majestic Stars won’t be running for long. Spectacle broke ground on the casino that will eventually replace them back in January.

That Hard Rock-branded successor is hoping to be ready for business by New Year’s Eve.

Until then, it’ll be business as usual for both of the Majestic Stars. USA Sports Gaming has also struck a deal with Spectacle to run the sportsbooks at the company’s casinos.

The online sportsbook BetIndiana, which is a subsidiary of USA Sports Gaming, will eventually be joining the competition in Indiana.

The IGC granted BetIndiana its temporary vendor license, but the sportsbook hasn’t been able to come to market yet.

BetIndiana’s land-based partner would be the Majestic Star Casino until Hard Rock opens and replaces it.

The IGC’s investigation into Spectacle won’t interrupt the company’s land-based business, at least for now. However, it will probably throw a wrench into BetIndiana’s launch.

The IGC isn’t likely to give BetIndiana the green light to launch while its partner in the state is still under investigation.

If things do stretch into the summer, that could mean a longer wait for the sportsbook than it originally anticipated.

With more and more competitors entering Indiana’s market, carving out a chunk of the state’s handle will only become more difficult as time goes on.

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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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