Hard Rock Clears Partner in Land Deal, Gary, Indiana Casino is a ‘Go’

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Spectacle Entertainment and Hard Rock International are ready to move forward with their plan to bring a land-based casino to Gary, Indiana.

Hard Rock and Spectacle Entertainment are ready to move forward on a $300 million, land-based casino in Gary, Ind., after Hard Rock’s compliance committee reviewed land deals associated with the project and found no wrongdoing by its partner. (Image: Spectacle Entertainment)

Hard Rock issued a statement to Casino.org on Monday saying its compliance committee “found that there was no impropriety on behalf of Spectacle” regarding property deals on land for the planned casino off the Frank Borman Expressway. That location is roughly five miles from the Lake Michigan port that’s home to two Majestic Star riverboats currently owned by Spectacle Entertainment.

On Sept. 5, Hard Rock announced its compliance committee would perform due diligence after a series of articles by The Times of Northwest Indiana brought to light concerns about several properties purchased at Lake County tax sales.

The auctions allow the county to sell-off land it seizes when owners fail to pay property taxes. In at least one instance, a man purchased property at a tax sale that was seized from his father, who was looking to sell the land to Spectacle.

‘All is a Go’

On Aug. 28, the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) approved Spectacle’s plan to relocate its casino from the two riverboats and build a 225,000-square-foot casino that Hard Rock would operate. In addition, the venue would include a 2,000-seat concert hall.

The second stage of the project would involve a 200-room hotel.

The Hard Rock casino should employ about 1,600, an increase of around 650 from the current workforce at the Majestic Star boats. The hotel project would add another 200 jobs.

At the IGC meeting, Spectacle’s vice president and general counsel John Keeler said his company and Hard Rock International had signed a letter of intent, with plans to formally sign the partnership agreement by mid-September.

However, that was before Hard Rock brought its compliance committee in to review the project.

All is a go,” Keeler told Casino.org on Monday night. “Looking forward to moving on to land.”

The casino and concert hall could be ready by the end of 2020. No announcement has been made regarding when construction would start.

Financial Details

The IGC’s approval is contingent on Spectacle paying a $20 million relocation fee in five annual installments of $4 million.

In addition, earlier this month the Gary Common Council approved a new local arrangement between Spectacle and the city. As part of the revised deal, the city will receive 3 percent of Hard Rock’s adjusted gross casino receipts, as well as three percent of the adjusted revenue from the mobile sports betting applications tied to the casino.

Spectacle also agreed to give back the second Majestic Star license to the state, which has earmarked it for another land-based casino in Terre Haute.

Gary will also receive proceeds from a planned Terre Haute casino if Spectacle and Hard Rock win the license for that venue. Voters in Vigo County will go to the polls next week to decide in a referendum whether they want a casino in the central Indiana city near the Illinois border.

If the referendum passes, the IGC will accept proposals for the casino through Dec. 1.

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