UPDATE: Churchill Downs has officially delayed the targeting opening date until March 2024
Queen of Terre Haute Casino just cleared another small set of roadblocks.
A brief hitch halted progress on the $260 million Indiana casino project, but Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett confirmed that things are back on track.
Despite that, the brief delays might force the casino to push back its opening date from late 2023 into early 2024.
Two major obstacles overcome
Construction on the Churchill Downs-owned project began in June. The casino resort originally was going to be built on the west side of Terre Haute but was moved to the east side of the city when plans expanded.
A Federal Aviation Administration study temporarily delayed progress for the project.
FAA concerns grew in June after changes to the original plan. The building could have presented flight path hazards.
To solve the problem, the hotel’s original location was moved and the owners decided to lower the height of the building from 150 feet to 141 feet. It was also agreed that for safety reasons, aviation warning lights would be installed on the building.
Groundwork can now resume. The hotel and casino structures will be erected over the next six months. Interior work will take place simultaneously. Work on the exterior enclosures will commence early next year.
A new FAA study looked into the proposed height of the hotel connected to the casino as well as its proximity to Terre Haute’s regional airport. It ultimately concluded that the project didn’t pose any significant concerns.
Correspondingly, the Indiana Department of Transportation has green-lighted the casino’s traffic flow plan. With both regulatory hurdles now cleared, construction on the project can go ahead as planned.
Opening date might now be in 2024
Mayor Bennet acknowledged that waiting on the two approvals caused a brief delay in the project.
Kentucky-based Churchill Downs predicted an opening date toward the end of 2023. But, in light of the recent delays, the opening date might end up being the first quarter of 2024.
Construction on the casino, which sits on a 50-acre parcel off East Margaret Drive, started in the summer. From the outset, the project met with some difficulties, including the need to add rock to the building site.
The Indiana Gaming Commission approved the project on Nov 17. 2021.
Originally, the license for a Terre Haute casino went to Lucy Lucky Gaming in 2020. That project – a joint venture with Hard Rock International – would have been Hard Rock Terre Haute. However, the commission saw fit to withdraw the license due to fallout from the Spectacle Entertainment scandal.
In 2021, the commission reopened the application process for the license. After screening four applicants, Churchill Downs came out on top.
Project boasts nearly 400,000 square feet of gaming space
The casino resort is a $190 million project.
It aims to build a $110 million gaming facility with 392,816 square feet of space. The casino will feature 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games and a sportsbook. That’s on top of three restaurants, two bars and a four-star 125-room hotel that features its own rooftop bar and lounge.
An entertainment space seating 500 people will be built to make sure the Special Events Room complements the new Terre Haute Convention Center. It is hoped that the casino and Special Events Room will also have the power to draw in events to the new downtown convention center.
The five-year prognosis for the casino looks promising.
Owners estimate that the resort will serve more than 1.3 million gaming patrons each year, and up to 6.7 million visitors during its first five years. Churchill Downs hopes to generate upwards of $630 million in gross gaming revenues while providing permanent employment for 500 people.