Indiana Gaming Commission Picks Churchill Downs for New Casino
Churchill Downs has been chosen for the casino license in Terre Haute by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
After a long and exhaustive process, Churchill Downs has been named the operator for a new casino in Terre Haute, Indiana. The $240 million development will be the 13th casino for the state. It took more than six hours for the Indiana Gaming Commission to choose the brand for the project. In an earlier meeting, the Hard Rock International bid was eliminated, leaving only Churchill Downs and Full House Resorts in play.
Narrowing Down the Choices
The process of elimination was long and tedious. The Commission had already received bids from potential operators and requested that presentations be given this week, showcasing which each plan entailed.
The meeting consisted of the companies’ providing presentations and answering any questions that commissioners had. Once the field was narrowed down to Churchill Downs and Full House Resorts, both were allowed to give a final plea as to why their plan should be chosen.
After that, the Commissioners talked in a closed session for about thirty minutes. Once the executive session was over, a motion to choose Full House by the Chairman of the group, Michael McMains, was rejected by a 5-2 vote. A vote for Churchill Downs was unanimous.
Churchill Downs has been interesting in operating a casino in the region for quite some time. They already offer services in Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois, and had yet to find an opportunity to offer gaming in Indiana, until this license became available.
The operator plans to create The Queen of Terre Haute Casino and offer 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games. The property will also be home to a hotel with 125 guest rooms.
The Licensing is Still Pending
While Churchill Downs was chosen for the license by the Gaming Commission, they will not officially be given the license just yet. Initially, the Commission approved Greg Gibson the license about a year and a half ago for a Hard Rock International property.
Back in June, the Commission decided to avoid renewing the license because the casino plans had not progressed in that time frame. Gibson appealed the decision, and a hearing must take place. If the Commission is able to win the case, then they can hand over the license to Churchill Downs.
Despite this issue, Churchill Downs can start the process by applying for permits, working on construction plans and other areas of the project. It may be some time before the actual construction process can begin.
For Full House, it was an unfortunate missed opportunity, coming in second place to Churchill Downs. The company had big plans to spend $300 million, offering the same number of slots and table games as its competitor. The project included a 100 room hotel, with plans to add more towers in the future.
Full House also had plans to add a large greenhouse on the property to help provide farm-to-table dining options along with unique dining options on-site. This was one element in which the plan differed from Churchill Downs.
Full House Resorts chief development officer Alex Stolyar stated that the company along with its development team have a proven track record. They provide elaborate proposals but then follow through and create amazing properties.
For some reason though, it seemed the Commissioners favored Churchills plans more, leaving Full House to have to look elsewhere to create a new gaming venue.