IGC Approves Ownership Transfer Of Tropicana Evansville To Bally’s

The Indiana Gaming Commission unanimously approved all three orders Tuesday that would complete the transfer of ownership of Tropicana Evansville from Eldorado Properties to Bally’s Corp.

Bally’s originally purchased Tropicana Evansville for $140 million in late October 2020 as Twin River during a buying spree that included Jumer’s Casino in Illinois and a rebranding following the acquisition of the Bally’s name. It also acquired Bet.Works in that time period to have an in-house sports betting platform.

Tropicana Evansville was one of three properties in Indiana that Eldorado was required to sell for the IGC to approve its $17 billion merger with Caesars last summer. Eldorado also agreed to sell Caesars Southern Indiana to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for $250 million in December and is still looking for a buyer for Horseshoe Hammond in the northwest part of the state near the Illinois border.

Bally’s CEO George Papanier led a remote presentation that detailed the company’s financial footing as well as its plans for the Evansville location, which included the transition of the sportsbook to the Bally’s brand. The company launched its mobile app — Bally Bet — in Colorado on Monday, and with Bet.Works approved for a permanent supplier license during the meeting, it is possible it could accept wagers in the Hoosier State before the end of the year.

Papanier also expressed an interest in developing the convention center around the casino, noting his company felt the land had been underutilized in recent years. He said Bally’s would do an on-site evaluation lasting between 90 and 180 days before determining what type of project enhancements it would make to the casino beyond general maintenance.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke enthusiastically backed Bally’s arrival, saying he was “confident George and his team will continue to make this facility the No. 1 tourist attraction in a three-state area. We’re excited about the longstanding history of gaming in our region, we’re grateful for the longstanding commitment of the Gaming Commission and support of gaming here and I will just tell you Bally’s Evansville has a really nice ring to it.”

IGC tables financial package approval for Terre Haute

With the Hard Rock Northern Indiana in Gary officially open, Spectacle Jack — since rebranded to Lucy Luck — has now turned its attention to partnering with the Seminole tribe to open a casino in Terre Haute. The delays that came due to the issues from former Spectacle Entertainment CEO Rod Ratcliff involving the Gary venue created ripples downstate, which contributed to the casino owner’s license renewal for the planned “Rocksino” not being on the agenda for this meeting.

IGC Executive Director Sara Gonso Tait added that the Majestic Star renewal for the Gary location would continue under “an interim renewal process,” and that would be in effect until enough information is gathered for both venues for a renewal on an annual basis. Tait did point out Lucy Luck had taken “affirmative steps towards the opening of an operational casino” over the course of a calendar year but also noted the commission had not received certain information toward a favorable review for an annual license renewal until recently.

Hard Rock and Lucy Luck did execute a management agreement earlier this month, with Hard Rock CEO Jon Lucas hoping to break ground on the $170 million project in either late June or early July with a targeted opening date in 2022 of late summer or early fall.

Murray Clark, the counsel for Lucy Luck, explained the company has made 14 offers to minority owners of “redemption of repurchase ownership units,” with eight being accepted and the other six in negotiations. Clark added Lucy Luck has informed those parties about the obligations of submitting the applications required to move the licensing process along.

The move to table the financial package to coincide with the license renewal at the next scheduled meeting June 24 came from Commissioner Jason Dudich, noting he was not comfortable voting on “one before the other.” The move was seconded by Commissioner Susan Williams and then unanimously approved.