Inside INdiana Business

Kentucky Derby owner seeks casino license for Terre Haute

Artist rendering of a proposed casino in Vigo County, The Queen of Terre Haute. (image courtesy: Churchill Downs Inc)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The owner of the famed Kentucky Derby says it has submitted a proposal to build a casino resort in Terre Haute. Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. (Nasdaq: CHDN) has also filed an application with the Indiana Gaming Commission seeking the open casino license in Vigo County. The license became available earlier this summer when the commission denied a license renewal to the previous holder, Terre Haute-based Lucy Luck Gaming.

The license would have been used to operate the planned $175 million Hard Rock Casino in the Vigo County city. Lucy Luck has filed an appeal.

In July, the IGC reopened the application process for the gaming license, setting a September 22 deadline. Churchill Downs is one of four applicants for the license. The others include Full House Resorts Inc., which operates Rising Star Casino in Ohio County, as well as Hard Rock International and Terre Haute Entertainment LLC, a joint venture between Premier Gaming Group and Terre Haute Entertainment Holdings LLC.

In its proposal, Churchill Downs said its casino, The Queen of Terre Haute, would include 1,000 slot machines, 50 table games, a sportsbook and a 125-room hotel.

“Churchill Downs has a 147-year track record of offering extraordinary entertainment experiences and has significant expertise developing premier casino and gaming properties throughout the United States,” said Bill Carstanjen, Chief Executive Officer of CDI. “We are proud to offer our vision for this world-class casino, a true destination resort designed to draw visitors and economic activity from across the Midwest to Terre Haute.” 

The company says it enlisted help from Purdue University economists to measure the economic impact its casino could have. CDI says the Terre Haute gaming facility would generate $190 million in annual regional economic impact, including 500 permanent jobs. It estimates 1,000 construction jobs would be created.

“We appreciate the local encouragement we’ve received as we’ve evaluated this opportunity,” said Carstanjen. “In the days ahead, we look forward to making our case to the Indiana Gaming Commission as to why our proposal to build the Queen of Terre Haute is in the best interest of the residents and businesses of Terre Haute, Vigo County and the State of Indiana.”

CDI owns and operates casino and gaming operations across nine states.

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