Indiana Gaming Commission Sets Vigo County Casino Application Deadline

The Hoosier State’s historic gaming expansion plan continues to unfold.

Indiana gaming regulators are moving full steam ahead with getting sports betting up and running around the start of the upcoming NFL and college football seasons. Related to that regulatory activity is a process of awarding a license for a new casino in Vigo County, which was authorized under the same law that legalized retail and online/mobile sports betting.

The Indiana Gaming Commission recently informed casinos in the state about the Vigo County casino application process, which could take the better part of a year in totality.

The IGC said that on July 16 it received Majestic Star Casino LLC’s request to relocate gaming operations to the county, effectively kicking off the entire process. There will be a competitive process to decide who can open the new, highly sought casino. Regulators are now accepting applications and proposals for awarding a license to operate the inland casino.

The cost to apply is $50k.

December deadline

The IGC will accept applications and proposals until Dec. 1, 2019, giving current Indiana licensed casino owners about four months to come up with plans. It’s a relatively tight timeline. After receipt of applications and proposals, officials will determine the appropriate date for action on the applications.

The IGC can’t take action on the applications until the voters of Vigo County have approved inland casino gambling in the county and Spectacle Entertainment’s license for the Majestic Star casino located in Gary is relinquished. The relinquishing of the Gary license is contingent on an agreement from the legislative body of the City of Gary, IGC approval, and the first annual payment of $4 mm.

Vigo County voters are expected to weigh in this November.

“The Commission is committed to a transparent process for the review and awarding of the Vigo County license,” the IGC said in a document posted to its website.

Details of the Vigo County casino

While the specifics of the new casino will depend on the individual project proposals, new state law dictates that the casino must have a minimum investment of $100 mm. Thirty-five percent of that investment must be used for the property’s non-gaming offerings.

The Vigo County casino would have no more than 1.5k gaming positions. It could have a sportsbook.

According to a report from the Tribune Star, if Spectacle Entertainment is the winning proposal, it would likely develop a casino along the U.S.40/Indiana 46 corridor adjacent to I-70. If Spectacle is awarded the right to build the new casino, it would, as mentioned above, have to relinquish the license for its Gary operation.

Indiana-based Spectacle has partnered with the Hard Rock casino brand for the casino.

Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts, owner of the Rising Star Casino property in Rising Sun, Indiana, is also expected to bid for the Vigo County opportunity.

According to a state fiscal analysis, a Vigo County casino is expected to draw between 800k and 1.1 mm guests annually, generating $85 mm to $105 mm in adjusted gross gaming revenue. The benefit to the state, however, will be significantly less thanks to the analysis predicting that about half of the Vigo County casino’s gaming revenue will come from cannibalization of existing casinos.

Still, the extra gaming revenue should help the market. In June, state gaming win fell nearly 3% in a year-over-year comparison.