Efforts to complete construction of the $300 million Hard Rock Casino in Gary this spring are moving forward. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report concerns of a potential delay in opening the casino have been abated after the Indiana Gaming Commission issued two orders regarding one of the casino’s owners whose gaming license had previously been suspended.
The commission in December suspended the license of former Spectacle Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Rod Ratcliff after he was implicated in a campaign finance scheme involving former State Senator Brent Waltz (R-Greenwood).
While Ratcliff was never charged with a crime, the publication reports a commission investigation found he allegedly made unauthorized executive employment offers, continued control of Spectacle finances after he resigned from the company, failed provide required disclosures to the commission or cooperate with its investigation, and did not report $900,000 in deposits to his horse wagering account over a four-year period.
The first order issued by Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Tait says Ratcliff has agreed to sell his ownership interests in the new Hard Rock Casino. He has also agreed to permanently relinquish his gaming license.
Financial details were not disclosed, but Ratcliff’s shares were acquired by a company run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owns the Hard Rock brand, as well as a company owned by Greg Gibson, who is also building a new casino in Terre Haute in conjunction with Hard Rock, according to The Times.
The second order says the commission has agreed not to pursue any further legal action against Ratcliff.
Because of the issues surrounding Ratcliff, the commission had put a pause on the opening of the Gary casino. That pause has now been lifted and Hard Rock International Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas tells the publication a grand opening date is expected to be announced “in the near future.”
Officials broke ground on the Gary casino in January 2020. The 200,000-square-foot facility will feature 1,650 slot machines and 80 table games; a sportsbook and bar; six restaurants, including a Hard Rock Cafe; a Rock Shop retail store and a 2,000-seat Hard Rock Live venue.
You can read the full story from The Times of Northwest Indiana by clicking here.