As Terre Haute eyes a casino, one of the next steps in the process involves Vigo County voters

State lawmakers mandated that the Vigo County Election Board must hold a special election either this fall or next spring.

Posted: May 2, 2019 2:48 PM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Two major things must happen before a casino is built in Terre Haute.

The first thing involves Spectacle Entertainment, the company who wants to move its two Gary, Indiana casinos off of Lake Michigan.

The other involves registered voters in Vigo County.

Both of those steps could happen before the end of this year.

Spectacle Entertainment wants to move one of its casinos in Gary inland to the I-80, 94 interchange.

The company has until the end of the year to make this move, which it has said in the past it intends to do.

If that happens, Spectacle would then relinquish its second license.

That will be awarded to Vigo County.

This is where registered voters come into play.

Voters must approve the casino by referendum.

State lawmakers mandated that the Vigo County Election Board must hold a special election either this fall or next spring.

You will find a question on the ballot of that special election that says: "Shall inland casino gambling be permitted in Vigo County?"

Voters will have to select Yes or No.

In a recent News 10 poll, 70 percent responded in favor of a casino, while 24 percent were against it.

If it is voted down, Vigo County can't have another special election like this for two years.

If it is approved, the Indiana Gaming Commission will select an operator it thinks is best for a Terre Haute casino.

It would be modestly sized, with 1,500 gambling games.

The successful applicant must pay a $5 million license fee.

We also know the total investment must be at least $100 million.

65 percent of the investment must be made in the casino with the remaining 35 percent going towards amenities like hotels, restaurants, and retail space.

The commission will consider several factors when selecting an operator.

Economic and tax benefits, the number of jobs created, and local elected officials must pass a resolution to support that particular operator.

The area stands to benefit from the gaming tax revenue the state sends back to its gaming communities.

40 percent of those funds return to the City of Terre Haute.

Vigo County would get 30 percent of the cut.

The Vigo County School Corporation and West Central 2025 each get 15 percent.

The operator must also pay money to the City of Evansville, totaling $2.7 million in its first three years in operation.

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