Settlement Allows Indiana Hard Rock Casino to Move Forward
Indiana gaming executive Rod Ratcliff has reached a settlement with the Indiana Gaming Commission which will allow the Hard Rock casino plans in the state to move forward.
The Indiana Gaming Commission has been investigating Rod Rafcliff and Spectacle Entertainment for quite some time. Because of the investigation, plans to create a Hard Rock Casino in the state have not been able to move forward. However, this week, Ratcliff reached a settlement involving his company shares of Spectacle which will allow the casino plans to move forward once again.
The deal agreed upon saw Ratcliff sell his holdings to Spectacle partner, Greg Gibson, along with Hard Rock International. Construction of the new land-based gaming venue in Gary began with a ground-breaking ceremony in January of last year. However, soon after, the process was delayed for several months due to Sara Gonso Tait, the IGC Executive Commissioner, stopping the transfer of assets from the Majestic Star Casino owned by Spectacle to Hard Rock Northern Indiana.
With the new agreement signed, the Hard Rock casino can continue construction. Ratcliff has also waived his rights and will not be able to challenge the decision. The goal is to see Ratcliff no longer associated with the company as the plans for the new casino move forward.
Regulators began investigating Spectacle in early 2020 not long after the groundbreaking ceremony. At the time, regulators had learned that the former company of Ratcliff was associated with a federal inquiry connected to illegal contributions to a campaign involving a state senator.
Within its review, the Indiana Gaming Commission was able to recover evidence that showed Ratcliff was part of the scheme connected to campaign contributions along with other violations. It was reported that the former gaming executive had unreported stock transfers and a horse racing account that was not disclosed.
Based on these findings, the Commission decided to seek the revocation of Ratcliff’s gaming license. Ratcliff and his legal team said that federal authorities did not indict him and they said the state was pushing to get Ratcliff to sell his shares of the company at a lower price point to Hard Rock.
Stopping the ‘Unfair Prosecution’
After the agreement was announced, Ratcliff used a spokesman named Robert Vane to report his comments. Vane said that is was good to see the state stop its ‘unfair prosecution’ and reach out to the benefit of everyone involved.
Vane stated further that with the deal, Ratcliff is now able to retire from the gaming industry of Indiana on his own terms.
In a separate statement, IGC’s Tait said that she has talked with Chairman Michael McMains on the approval of the ownership transfer for the Hard Rock casino. This will stop all cases connected to the project.
Even so, the investigation into Spectacle continues. Since late last year, the Commission has been trying to figure out how to continue the project in Gary. It is vital of for the local community as well as staff members of the Majestic Star, along with the state.
The employees of the casino will transfer to the Hard Rock once it is ready for business. Yet, there is still work to be done involving the remaining shareholders connected to Spectacle and Hard Rock. Enough has been done to settle the issues so that work can continue the Hard Rock venue, more agreements are needed to handle additional issues between the two companies.
Tait reported that both Hard Rock and Spectacle Entertainment will be asked by the Commission to attend its March meeting and address the members. There will be a focus on commitments and remedial efforts for the future. The results of this will determine what steps need to be taken next by both companies.