TERRE HAUTE and INDIANAPOLIS - When Vigo County residents head to the voting booth next month, one of the referendum issues they’ll be deciding is the future of casino gambling in the county.

Question 1 on the November 5 ballot asks voters if they support the construction of a casino in Terre Haute.

The Advance West Central Indiana Political Action Committee has released the results of a study on the economic impact a casino would have on the community. The analysis was conducted by The Innovation Group  and commissioned by the Casino Association of Indiana, which allowed the release of the outcomes.

“We felt that that the data was important to inform the debate and Vigo county in west-central Indiana,” said Matt Bell, president of the Casino Association of Indiana.

The study indicates a casino in Terre Haute would create approximately 650 full-time jobs and 140 part-time casino jobs.

“Casinos are a strong engine for economic development and growth in communities,” says Bell. “A casino in Terre Haute creates hundreds of jobs … and in fact, generates tens of millions of dollars in economic benefit to Vigo County. “

As the PAC pushes for approval of the proposed Vigo County project, it says construction alone would have a nearly $80 million impact on the local economy. 

“It’s been a long time since we have had this kind of opportunity here in Terre Haute,” said Senator Jon Ford (R-IN).

The Indiana Gaming Commission says it will accept applications and proposals for a Vigo County casino operation until December 1.  

The IGC says it will not take action on the casino applications until residents have approved the construction of a gaming facility. 

Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, which holds the casino licenses on two floating casinos in Gary, has expressed interest in opening a casino in Terre Haute.

Spectacle announced plans to consolidate the two floating operations into one land-based casino in Gary. The Indiana General Assembly, in approving that move as part of a broader gambling bill, would require Spectacle to surrender one of the licenses, making it available for Vigo County.

The study also examined what impact a casino in nearby Danville, Illinois might have on a Terre Haute casino. 

“We think there's an opportunity in Indiana to be ahead of the development of a property in Danville, and I think it should be a goal to be ahead of expansion in Illinois,” said Bell. “It gives us the first opportunity to create relationships with those patrons who kind of live in
the middle between the two.” 

Bell says he hopes there could be a casino operating in Terre Haute as early as late 2021.

Advance West Central Indiana PAC will host a community forum Tuesday at IBEW Local 725 in Terre Haute to answer questions and get more support from voters on the casino referendum.