Churchill Downs chosen to build casino in western Indiana


The company that runs the Kentucky Derby has been chosen to take over the stalled project to build a casino in the city of Terre Haute, western Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS – The company that runs the Kentucky Derby has been chosen to take over the stalled project to build a casino in the town of Terre Haute, western Indiana.

Members of the Indiana Gaming Commission voted Wednesday in favor of Louisville, Ky.-Based Churchill Downs Inc. over three other companies that submitted proposals.

The selection of Churchill Downs comes after the Derailment of the Terre Haute Project amid an investigation into allegations of criminal and financial misconduct against senior executives of a property group that initially obtained the casino license in 2019.

Churchill Downs said he is planning a $ 240 million project to build a new casino, as well as a 10-story, 125-room hotel with a rooftop lounge. The company plans to open the casino within 16 months on a property south of the Interstate 70-US 41 interchange. Executives said they may also be considering sites near I-70 in east. the city.

CEO Bill Carstanjen told the state commission Churchill Downs is not pursuing multiple projects or already running casinos elsewhere in Indiana like the other candidates.

“It’s a market we’ve been looking for for some time,” Carstanjen said. “We’re going to be absolutely focused on getting as far as possible.”

The state commission has detained Churchill Downs as the former Terre Haute casino group fights the loss of its license. The commission is in settlement negotiations with this group before a hearing scheduled for Dec. 3 before an administrative law judge.

In addition to its eponymous racetrack in Louisville and pari-mutuel betting facilities in Kentucky, Churchill Downs operates 10 casinos in eight states.

The Terre Haute project will become Indiana’s 13th casino, the city becoming the first new community in the state to have a casino since 2008.

The executive director of the gaming commission, Greg Small, said it was important to build the new casino.

“This project has been on hold for too long and too little has been done to fully reap the benefits for the state or the local community,” Small said.

Project Terre Haute has been in turmoil since early 2020, when state casino officials began investigating Spectacle Entertainment and then CEO Rod Ratcliff after federal contributions charges were filed. illegal to a political campaign involving a longtime Ratcliff business partner, former Spectacle vice president John Keeler.

State officials forced Spectacle last year to hand over ownership of the project to Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson, but his efforts to open the casino were unsuccessful.

Ratcliff has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged by federal authorities in the campaign finance case. Keeler is awaiting trial on the charges against him.

Ratcliff agreed in March to relinquish his state casino license and sell his stake in Gary Casino, ending more than a decade as a heavyweight in Indiana’s gambling industry.

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