TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Vigo County has spoken and now, a casino will be coming to the Wabash Valley.
The 2019 election carried more weight than past elections. That's because of decisions like the casino referendum. Nearly 25,000 people voted and it was overwhelmingly decided to bring a casino to Vigo County. 63% voted yes while 37% voted no--a difference of 26%.
"Overall I think it's a great statement Terre Haute has made to the rest of the state," Senator Jon Ford said, "It says, we want opportunities here and we are open for business."
LINK | ELECTION RESULTS
Ford said the goal for the casino project has always been to have a great overall impact on the local community. A study done by the Advance West Central Indiana PAC shows that more than $160 million could be generated in the first year alone. On top of that, more than 1,300 jobs could be created.
Ford says this impact is not only after the casino is built, but during the process of getting it built as well. He laid out how this impact will be felt in both the short term and long term future. "We're looking at a minimum of $100 million dollars of construction that will use local union labor," he said, "That includes over $30 million in payroll. They will take unskilled folks and train them to work in the casino creating a lot of opportunities for folks."
Those who supported the casino referendum and voted yes are thrilled about getting the next steps in bringing a casino to Vigo County going. Senator Ford laid out exactly how this will go.
The gaming commission is currently receiving applications for potential operators of the casino. They will take applications until December 1st. Ford said the Commission will study the economic impact of each application. He hopes they will announce a winner and issue a license in the first quarter of 2020.
Ford says that they will go through this process in a timely manner while ensuring it's the best fit for the community. "We've tried to be very open and transparent and encourage anyone that wants to submit an application to do it and as a state, we will look at it and see what deals would be the best," he said, "Gaming companies go very quickly. I would anticipate sometime in the spring a groundbreaking and then 14 to 18 months of a construction build."
Senator Ford says they hope to have a casino finished in Vigo County by the summer of 2021.