TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - It took the Indiana Gaming Commission six hours to finally select a Vigo County casino operator.
Now, Churchill Downs has what's called a "Certificate of Suitability." That means they can begin work on making the casino a reality.
This will be the company's first gaming facility in Indiana. The CEO of Churchill Downs, William Carstanjen, told us they jumped at the chance to come to Terre Haute, calling it the perfect opportunity to jump into the Hoosier gaming scene.
"We're in Ohio. We're in Illinois. We're in Kentucky. We're in a lot of surrounding states," Carstanjen said.
Many local leaders told us they're happy to see this big name in the gaming industry come to the community.
"It fits right into our community plan, from a tourism perspective. It will bring revenue into the community that we're going to be able to spend," Mayor Duke Bennett said.
"They came in with the best presentation. They spoke with a lot of people around the community, how they would include vendors and things like that into their proposal," Vigo County Commissioner Chris Switzer said.
Because the Lucy Luck appeal is still pending, the commission isn't able to award the license outright to Churchill Downs. But the certificate of suitability allows the company to get started right away on things that will finally move the project forward.
"Permitting. Site work. Finalization of construction plans and bidding out materials...12 to 16 months we'll be ready to go," Carstanjen said.
The construction site
Carstanjen mentioned work sites that some if you ha e already raided a stink about. That's because Churchill Downs secured property along Honey Creek Drive. That's just west of the Haute City Center Mall.
It's also near the city's wastewater treatment plant, and Vigo County's still under construction new jail.
We wanted to see if there's a chance it would be moved. Carstanjen said they like this site.
"We understand the sites out east. They're ever so closer to the western Indianapolis suburbs. We understand why people went with those sites, but we love our site," Carstanjen told us.
Both Bennett and Switzer said they would like to see Churchill Downs move the site near the I-70 and State Road 46 interchange.
"I would most certainly rather have them out east. I understand they all had to find a spot to make it part of their application, but I'm hoping they rethink that," the mayor said.
"I would encourage them to look moving east," Switzer said. "I think Bill (Carstanjen) talked about that in his presentation. That's possible. We'll see what happens."
Carstanjen said they like their site, but he's open to looking out east, especially if that would positively impact the community.
"We'll work on that if there's a sense that we ought to switch sites. We'll be happy to consider that, but we love our site, and that's our first choice," Carstanjen said.
Regardless of where it is built, Churchill Downs says it will begin securing permits right away.
We will continue to follow any developments with this story.