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State regulators evaluating Terre Haute casino proposals, decision expected Nov. 17

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Terre Haute "Rocksino"

A company affiliated with the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana has applied for a license to operate a new casino designated for the west-central Indiana city of Terre Haute. Shown is the "Rocksino" casino concept Hard Rock previously proposed to build in association with the former holder of the Terre Haute casino license.

The Indiana Gaming Commission is planning to decide Nov. 17 which company will build and operate a new casino in the west-central Indiana city of Terre Haute.

Four companies have submitted applications for the gaming license reassigned to Terre Haute from Gary by the 2019 General Assembly in connection with the consolidation of the two Majestic Star Casino boats into the land-based Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.

Two of the applicants — Hard Rock and Full House Resorts (Rising Star) — already operate Indiana casinos, while Kentucky race track operator Churchill Downs is a current Indiana sports wagering licensee (BetRivers).

The fourth applicant is a new company called Terre Haute Entertainment LLC, a partnership of the Premier Gaming Group and Terre Haute Entertainment Holdings LLC.

IGC officials said the fact that three of the four companies vying for the Terre Haute license are regulated gaming entities in Indiana will speed the process of evaluating their financing, business structure, and executives' backgrounds, since they're already known to state regulators.

Application documents show each company has a somewhat different vision for a Terre Haute casino, ranging from 800 slot machines and 20 table games (Terre Haute Entertainment) to more than 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games (Full House).

For comparison, the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond currently offers patrons 1,974 slot machines and 118 table games.

All the Terre Haute plans, except Hard Rock, include an upscale hotel as part of the initial development. Hard Rock's prospectus indicates a hotel will be built as part of a Phase II, similar to their plans to construct a hotel at their Gary casino in coming years.

Each of the proposals additionally promises multiple fine and casual dining restaurants at the casino, with diners eating inside an on-site greenhouse in Full House's "American Place" plan.

The "Rocksino" by Hard Rock also would have a 300-seat Velvet Sessions Showroom for live musical entertainment.

Hard Rock may have a leg up on the competition because it already has a complete building and operations plan for a Terre Haute casino developed in association with the former license holder, Lucy Luck Gaming.

In June, the IGC denied Lucy Luck's license renewal request due to a variety of financial and ethical concerns, along with the lack of visible progress toward constructing a Terre Haute casino after more than a year.

That opened the door for other companies to apply for the license.


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