Churchill Downs to Pursue New Location for Terre Haute Casino

Terre Haute Indiana City Hall

Plans for Indiana’s 13th casino are being delayed once again. Churchill Downs, the company now in charge of the project, has requested to move to a new location. The original casino was planned to be built near a sewage treatment facility and the county jail in Terre Haute, IN. Instead, Churchill Downs would like to move the project to the east side of the city.

Churchill Downs was chosen to take over the casino project after allegations of financial and criminal misconduct were brought against the original licensee. Now, the Kentucky-based Churchill Downs must try to salvage the Terre Haute casino plans. For now, it looks like a casino in Western Indiana is still years away. In the meantime, residents will have to make do using Indiana’s best online casinos.

Part of the reason for requesting a new location is to comply with requests from the community. Officials from Churchill Downs have said that community members encouraged moving the project to a new spot. The proposed project will cost an estimated $240 million and will include 125 rooms in the 10-story hotel.

The criticism of the current site started before Churchill Downs was in charge of the project. The casino developer has applied to Vigo County officials to rezone nearly 50-acres of farmland for a new building site. According to an Indiana Gaming Commission official, there should be no legal barriers to changing the project’s location. Officials can review the request at their meetings next month.

Details of the Proposed Terre Haute Casino

Original plans for a casino in Terre Haute involved a partnership between Lucy Luck and Hard Rock International. The planned casino would be a sister property to the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana. It was projected to cost $125 million.

Unfortunately, plans fell through when the owners of Lucy Luck ran into legal trouble. After the casino developer failed to provide enough financing and an executive team to oversee the project, the IGC voted to not renew their casino license.

The IGC named Churchill Downs as the new operator for the Terre Haute casino project. Churchill downs increased the budget for the casino up to $240 million. Plans include a nearly 400,000 square feet casino building with 56,000 square feet of gaming space. Bettors will have access to 1,000 slot machines and 50 tables to choose from.

A hotel is also part of the proposed plans. The hotel will have 125 rooms across its 10 stories. There will also be a rooftop lounge on top of the building. In total, the casino hotel will create upwards of 500 jobs and both full and part-time positions will be available. Churchill Downs estimates it will generate $190 million annually in economic impact.

Why Churchill Downs Wants to Move to a New Location

The current project site has been criticized by community members since it was announced several years ago. Officials from Churchill Downs have listened to the community members and have applied to move to a new location. The Terre Haute casino project will require a significant investment by Churchill Downs to complete. Building a good relationship with the community will go a long way to making the investment pay off.

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There are several reasons why Terre Haute residents would want the project moved. First and foremost, the current location is near the city’s sewage treatment facility. It is also close to the county jail. Moving the casino to a better location could help improve business down the road.

Churchill Downs has a new location in mind. The casino developer has applied for nearly 50-acres of farmland in the eastern part of the city to be rezoned. If Vigo County officials approve the rezoning, the project could move to the new location.

The idea of building the Terre Haute casino on the east side of town is not a wholly original one. Other developers that had applied for the original project had similar sites in mind. If approved, the proposed location would put the casino hotel in a better location for people traveling along I-70 and Indiana State Road 46.

Next Steps for Terre Haute Casino Project

Churchill Downs has applied for the new location to be rezoned. Vigo County zoning officials are scheduled to meet on March 2nd to review the proposal. Obtaining county approval is just one step of the process. To move forward, they would also need approval from the Indiana Gaming Commission.

According to deputy director Jenny Reske, the Indiana Gaming Commission does not foresee any legal issues preventing the change of location. The state’s gaming commission is scheduled to meet on March 8th and could review the change then.

The gaming commission knew the concerns of the existing location when they approved Churchill Downs to take over the project. If the original project had been completed as planned, the casino would already be open for business. If the county approves the new location, it is unlikely that the gaming commission would hold up the project further.

Conclusion

Plans for a casino in Terre Haute could be taking a step backward. Churchill Downs, the developer now in charge of the project, is attempting to have it moved to a new location. The current plans have the casino being built near the county jail and sewage treatment facility. Churchill Downs would like to move the casino to the eastern side of Terre Haute.

Churchill Downs is based in nearby Kentucky. The casino giant took over the Terre Haute casino project after the original developers were denied their application to renew their casino license. Churchill Downs was chosen by the Indiana Gaming Commission to take over the project.

Now under new management, the proposed Terre Haute casino nearly doubled its project budget. The original plans were estimated to cost $125 million. Now, the casino hotel is estimated to cost $240 million.

If approved, the casino project will be moved to what is not farmland in eastern Terre Haute. The proposed location is similar to other spots selected by developers bidding on the original casino project. It is also closer to the major highways that go through the city, which could increase traffic to the new casino. County and state officials will meet next month to consider the change in location.