Hard Rock to Launch Gary, Indiana Casino on May 14

Hard Rock’s casino in Gary, Indiana is set to open to the public in mid-May after delays caused by a state probe into financial wrongdoing allegations leveled against the former top executive of the casino operator’s local partner.

Hard Rock COO Jon Lucas said Tuesday that their newest property will open doors on May 14 for the general public. A Friends and Family event will be held on May 11, while a VIP only opening will take place on May 13.

The Florida-based gaming and hospitality company partnered Spectacle Entertainment in the summer of 2019 to jointly develop land-based casino properties in the Indiana cities of Gary and Terre Haute.

The move came after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a comprehensive gambling expansion bill that, among other things, cleared a path for the development of a new casino in Terre Haute and the relocation of Gary’s two riverboat casinos onto dry land and into a brick-and-mortar property.

Spectacle currently operates the two Majestic Star riverboat facilities. They will close once the Hard Rock venue launches in less than two month. The property is located just off Interstate 80/94. Developers invested $300 million into bringing land-based gaming experience to Gary.

Spectacle Gets $530,000 Fine

The new Gary casino was originally scheduled to open late last year. However, damning accusations against one of Spectacle’s top officials and an inquiry into the matter launched by the Indiana Gaming Commission delayed the property’s launch.

Reports emerged in January 2020, that former Spectacle CEO Rod Ratcliff was involved in a scheme that illegally directed funds from the casino operator to the election campaign of an Indiana lawmaker who ran for the US Congress in 2015. Mr. Ratcliff was also accused of taking corporate money to fund his personal horse racing betting accounts.

Prior to announcing the opening date for Hard Rock’s Gary casino, the Indiana Gaming Commission ratified orders by commissioners calling for Mr. Ratcliff to be divested from ownership in Majestic Star and any entities associated with the casino operation and that he permanently relinquish his gaming license in the state.

The gambling regulator also fined Spectacle $530,000 for missing a 53-day deadline to remove its former boss from his role and appoint a new manager. Mr. Ratcliff agreed in early March to surrender his license.

Gaming Commission General Counsel Greg Small said this week that all remaining parties in the $300 million casino scheme are in good standing and that the ratification of the orders urging Mr. Ratcliff’s departure from “this very important economic development project” allows it to finally move forward.

Hard Rock plans to break ground on its other Indiana property, the one in Terre Haute, by the end of April.

Source: Hard Rock casino in Gary sets May 14 opening date, but fined $530K by Indiana Gaming Commission, The Chicago Tribune, March 23, 2021