On Wednesday, the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) chose Churchill Downs to run the state’s 13th casino. The company had proposed to build a $240 million project in the west-central city of Terre Haute.
After a six-hour meeting and several votes, the IGC picked Churchill Downs instead of Full House Resorts. The earliest part of the meeting led to the elimination of Premier Gaming Group and Hard Rock International.
It started with each of the four groups presenting their projects to the commission and answering asked questions. With Churchill and Full House making final states, they made the cut. The commissioner proceeded to a private session leading to a majority vote for Churchill Downs.
The IGC Chairman Michael McMains proposed a motion to choose Full House. Unfortunately, only two out of seven agreed with his motion, leading to the success of Churchill Downs.
Speaking of the win, Carstanjen said his company had the best and most detailed proposal among the four companies. He also said that Churchill Downs had been interested in running a casino in its backyard.
Carstanjen said that Churchill Downs was a big brand operating in Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois. While the brand is in most of the surrounding states, it only got a chance to enter Indiana on Wednesday.
Churchill Downs proposed to build a $240 million property going by The Queen of Terre Haute Casino. It will have 125 hotel rooms and a gaming floor carrying 1000 slot machines and 50 table games. The proposal also suggests employing around 350 people for a full-time job and around 150 as part-timers.
Full House Seemed to Have a Better Proposal
Churchill’s proposed project was second to Full House’s. The latter had proposed building a $300 million Las-Vegas style casino property. While it maintained the same number of casino games, it increased its investment to $300 million and promised 555 full-time jobs and 238 part-time jobs.
Full House also proposed to build 100 hotel rooms and add towers as the project progressed. Unfortunately, only two voted for the proposal.
IGC Has to Win an Appeal Case Before It Awards the License to Churchill Downs
While IGC decided its pick on Wednesday, it is yet to give the operating license to Churchill Downs. This is because the regulator had awarded the license to Lucy Luck 18 months ago that did not make any progress with its project. The IGC did not renew the company’s license leading to Lucy Luck business owner Greg Gibson filing an appeal.
If the case is resolved in the regulator’s favor, it will award the operating license to Churchill. For now, the decision remains with an administrative law judge.
Meanwhile, Churchill Downs can start with some work. This includes bidding for construction materials, applying for building permits, and completing construction plans.
If Churchill Downs were to get the operating license for The Queen of Terre Haute, it would become the company’s 11th owned or operated gaming facility. The company owns race tracks in Ohio, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Kentucky. Other facilities that the company runs but does not necessarily own include horse racing parlors in Kentucky and Louisiana.
Churchill Downs also owns TwinSpires that operates online gaming. Under the branding, Churchill offers sports betting, casino gaming, and horse racing bets in several states in the country.
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