By The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Gaming Commission on Thursday voted not to renew a gaming license for a planned new casino in Terre Haute that has already faced delays and forced ownership changes.
Commissioners said Lucy Luck hasn't hired an executive team to run the casino, and that full financing has yet to be secured.
“We’re now a year and a half into this process and still talking about things that are prospective in nature,” said Sarah Tait, the commission's executive director.
The commission ordered staff to reopen the license application process, and noted that Lucy Luck can reapply but that it must work out its deficiencies.
The casino’s groundbreaking was slated to begin in late June or early July, with an opening by fall 2022, but the commission put off voting to renew the license, saying they wanted to see more financial information from Lucy Luck’s partners first.
Hard Rock International executive Jon Lucas told the Indiana Gaming Commission in May that the company had reached an agreement with Lucy Luck Gaming, the new casino’s ownership group, to operate the new facility near Interstate 70 on Terre Haute’s east side. Hard Rock also operates a casino that opened in Gary last month.
A year ago, casino officials outlined a plan to open the $125 million Terre Haute facility in September 2021, but the commission forced two top executives to give up their ownership stakes in the project last year amid investigations into allegations of financial wrongdoings.
Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson took over leadership of the project. Murray Clark, an Indianapolis attorney for Lucy Luck, told the Gaming Commission that Gibson had negotiated project financing commitments with a consortium of five Indiana banks that expire June 30.
“I am deeply disappointed in what came from today’s meeting,” Gibson said in a statement Thursday. “As for Lucy Luck, we may reapply, but I’m not sure if we will. Terre Haute deserves this casino, and I wish it could be alongside Lucy Luck Gaming.”
The group projected the casino would hire 600 employees and earn $120 million in its first year. The facility’s plans included a Hard Rock Cafe, other restaurants and a 250-seat room for entertainment and meeting events.
The Terre Haute casino would be the state's 13th and the first in Indiana since 2008.