Spectacle Founder Sues Indiana Gaming Commission

Rod Ratcliff

Spectacle Entertainment founder Rod Ratcliff has filed a lawsuit against the Indiana Gaming Commission after his gaming license was suspended.

A lawsuit was recently filed by the founder of Spectacle Entertainment against the Indiana Gaming Commission. Rod Ratcliff is also the former CEO of the company who is fighting back after his gaming license was suspended. Ratcliff was subject to the suspension due to an investigation involving the company.

What’s Going On?

Ratcliff is a gaming executive with a long history in the state of Indiana. Back in 2018, he created Spectacle Entertainment and used the company to purchase the Majestic Star Casino. Before that, he sold a company titled Centaur Gaming, which was the owner of two racinos in Indiana. The properties were sold by Centaur to Caesars Entertainment.

An investigation began regarding Spectacle almost a year ago after it was discovered that the Centaur Gaming company was part of a federal case. The company had been connected to illegal campaign contributions from 2015.

In the federal case, former General Counsel and Vice President of Spectacle, John Keeler, was indicted. Ratcliff has not been indicted at this time. The investigation gave pause to the Indiana Gaming Commission regarding the plans to move the Majestic Star casino operations of Spectacle to the Hard Rock Northern Indiana casino.

The Hard Rock project is one being completed by Hard Rock International and Spectacle, to the tune of $300 million. In the lawsuit by Ratcliff, it claims that Executive Director of the Commission, Sara Tait, was acting unilaterally in her decision to suspend the license and she does not have the authority to do so.

Lawsuit Claims

The license held by Ratcliff was suspended on December 23. A meeting took place by the Commission in which findings were revealed involving Spectacle. Apparently, more information was provided aside from the campaign finance violations. The suspension was ruled by the Commission as an emergency decision.

Ratcliff’s attorneys say that the decision was made by the Commission acting outside its legal scope and Ratcliff was unfairly judged as guilty. They not only were unjustified in their ruling, the attorneys say that the Commission is now responsible for delaying a significant contributor to the local economy.

The campaign funds issue revolves around former Indiana Senator Brent Waltz. The Keeler indictment says that executives of Centaur Gaming and campaign consultants for Waltz created a plan for the company to fund the congressional campaign of the senator based on individual contributions.

Basically, people were recruited to contribute to the campaign. Invoices would then be sent to Centaur regarding these contributions and then the invoices were paid by the company, refunding the contributions.

Keeler’s license was suspended in September while Ratcliff’s was not suspended until December. Both men has appealed the orders filed against them. Attorneys for Ratcliff say he was denied process. The filing says that Ratcliff entered an agreement to sell his Spectacle shares one day before the December Commission meeting where his license was suspended.

The sale of the shares was rejected by Hard Rock International. The company offered to buy out Ratcliff but no agreement was ever reached. Ratcliff feels that because his case was issued an emergency by the Commission that it was done so unfairly not allowing him due process. If the situation was deemed non-emergency, then Ratcliff would have been able to have witnesses on his behalf.

The attorneys feel that the Commission worked quickly with the emergency ruling so that Ratcliff would be forced to sell to Hard Rock at a much lower price point.

The Commission feels they acted appropriately. They reportedly have information and have a belief that they gained themselves that Ratcliff is connected to the federal investigation, which led to their decision.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.