The great Indiana gaming expansion took another step forward Tuesday.
A gambling expansion package that lawmakers and lobbyists called “historic” and a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the state passed this year and was signed into law. Part of that package included the legalization of sports betting, and another component was potential authorization of a Las Vegas-style casino for Vigo County, located in West Central Indiana near the Illinois border.
County voters on Tuesday convincingly approved the referendum on the casino. According to the Vigo County Clerk, 86 of the 88 precincts are accounted for and 63.44% of voters said “yes” to the casino. A developer for the project has not yet been selected and a precise location for the casino also isn’t finalized.
The Indiana Gaming Commission is currently accepting bids for the casino project, which will likely be equipped with a retail sportsbook. However, 80% of Indiana’s sports betting handle could be online by the time the casino opens its doors, throwing cold water on a retail sports betting amenity.
Impact of casino
In the days leading up to the critical referendum, proponents of the project released a study conducted earlier this year to tout the potential economic benefits of a new brick-and-mortar casino.
A Vigo County casino located in or near the city of Terre Haute is expected to generate $100 mm in annual gaming revenue. That would be nowhere near the level of Horseshoe Hammond located in Northwest Indiana, which grabbed $33 mm in slot and table games revenue in September alone.
The Terre Haute-area casino would be about on par with the French Lick Casino and the Belterra Casino.
A Las Vegas-style gambling den in Terre Haute would have to compete with Illinois’ gambling industry, which was also beefed up this year through a massive gambling expansion package. A casino project in Danville, Ill., about 60 miles north of Terre Haute, is the works thanks to the new law.
Indiana officials appear to be moving quickly to try to see the Terre Haute casino come to fruition ahead of the Danville casino opening. The Danville casino project is expected to take up to four years to be complete, while the Terre Haute casino opening is anticipated for late 2021.
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