The renewal of a gaming licence for a future Hard Rock casino in Terre Haute has been denied following a vote from the Indian Gaming Commission.
Embroiled in delays and ownership upheaval, May saw Hard Rock International and Lucy Luck Gaming sign a management agreement for the Terre Haute Rocksino, a $125m casino that would operate under the Hard Rock brand in Indiana.
Greg Gibson, chairman of Lucy Luck Gaming, said: “The news we received today, although it wasn’t what we had anticipated or hoped for, isn’t the end of the journey. Lucy Luck Gaming has been prepared to begin construction on this project for months. We are in a position to hire our team, but at this time, we don’t have any gaming operations going on.”
Citing concerns that Lucy Luck had not employed anyone to run the casino, a year and a half into the process, the Gaming Commission noted that whilst the licence had been rejected, Lucy Luck would be allowed to reapply once it had secured financing, presented financial information about its partners and appointed an appropriate structure – an option Gibson states is unlikely.
He added: “We have worked tirelessly alongside many to bring this project to the Terre Haute community. We have developed our team, our finances, and detailed our operations to secure our licence.
“However, more importantly, Terre Haute has worked hard for this project. The citizens have worked hard for this project. I am deeply disappointed in what came from today’s meeting, and disappointed that a community who has fought and stood ready received such news.
“I believe in my community, and I believe in this project. As for Lucy Luck, we may reapply, but I’m not sure if we will.”
Construction of the casino should have gotten underway in late June with the aim of being operational by autumn 2022, but the commission put off voting to renew the licence, stating it wanted to see more financial information from Lucy Luck’s partners first.
Gibson concluded: “We certainly have accomplished our original goal of bringing a gaming licence to Vigo County. The community can take solace in the fact that there will eventually be a gaming facility here. It truly saddens me to know that the Terre Haute licence will be open for a bidding process amongst companies who will be interested in the project solely for monetary gain, and with companies who don’t know our community like Lucy Luck does.
“For me, this project has always been about Terre Haute; it’s been about my home community. Terre Haute deserves this casino, and I wish it could be alongside Lucy Luck Gaming.”
The Rocksino would have employed 600 people, generating $120m in its first year. It would operate 850 slot machines and 35 table games, along with a steakhouse, Hard Rock Cafe, food hall, and a 250-seat venue for live performances.
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