In order to move forward with development of Indiana’s proposed Rocksino, a project by Spectacle Jack LLC in partnership with Hard Rock International, casino ownership was required to undergo an investigation by the Indiana Gaming Commission. Last year, the casino received approval from Vigo County residents to move forward with the project. This year, casino leadership had to convince the Indiana Gaming Commission that it had appropriately responded to a federal court case in Virginia’s Eastern District.
The Case in Question
Spectacle Jack LLC was the only applicant to be awarded a gaming license for development of a casino in Vigo County in 2020. Spectacle Jack LLC is a subsidiary of Spectacle Entertainment, a Gary Indiana casino developer.
The Indiana Gaming Commission had scheduled a February 7 meeting to review the company’s application. According to Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Gonso Tait, the purpose of the meeting was “to consider the application for a casino owners license in Vigo County.” However, on January 24 the Gaming Commission canceled the February meeting and announced that there were members of the Spectacle Executive Leadership Team under investigation. The Gaming Commission became aware of a federal court case in the Eastern District of Virginia involving, among others, Charles O’Neill an employee of Strategic Campaign Group Inc.
O’Neill plead guilty to illegally transferring roughly $15,000 in 2015 from a gaming company based out of Indianapolis to the campaign for a candidate to The U.S. House of Representatives for Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District. The government contends that the scheme involved the company’s vice president, general counsel, and a gaming corporation based out of Indianapolis and incorporated in Delaware. The company in question was in fact Centaur Gaming however, certain upper management of Centaur are now the owners and operators of Spectacle Gaming. Spectacle Gaming is the “holder of Majestic Star Casino License in Gary. Spectacle is also currently undertaking a land-based casino project in Gary and pursuing the new casino license in Vigo County,” said the Indiana Gaming Commission.
As a result, the Gaming Commission stated that they had “begun a review pursuant to its statutory responsibilities.” Both community leaders and Spectacle Entertainment leadership were eager to resolve the issue and get development back on schedule for what all hope will be a lucrative project. Spectacle Entertainment responded quickly with a proposed solution to the Gaming Commission’s concerns. The general counsel, John Keeler, and Spectacle CEO Rod Ratcliff purposed, in an amended application, to withdraw from participation in Spectacle Jack LLC.
Indiana Gaming Commission Deputy Director Jenny Reske wrote “Spectacle Entertainment, Mr. Ratcliff, and Mr. Keeler have fully cooperated with the Indiana Gaming Commission’s review of this matter but indicated they wished to provide a voluntary remedy which would allow commission consideration without additional delay. The amended application reflects that Mr.Ratcliff and Mr. Keeler are no longer involved in Spectacle Jack’s operations.” In light of these changes, the Gaming Commission found that the application meets the requirements of Indiana statute.
In May of 2020, the Gaming Commission approved Spectacle Jack’s application for a gaming license and development agreement. The company agreed to a deal which will require is to pay 3% of its adjusted gross receipts to the Vigo County Community Improvement Foundation Inc.
A Surprising Addition
Spectacle Jack LLC has made it clear from the beginning that one of its primary goals would be to benefit the Vigo County community. From foundation payments to a new smoke free initiative, the company has vowed to advance community goals and improve health among residents.
Greg Gibson, owner of Spectacle Jack LLC, did not make the decision to go smoke free on the casino floor lightly. “Recognizing we had to make a good business decision for the company to maintain a solid financial ground for the future and provide a welcoming entertainment facility for all Hoosiers and guests, we had to look at data, become creative and benchmark other facilities which were successful with this model.”
The casino will feature outside covered patios to accommodate guests’ smoking needs. The patios will incorporate a full heating and air conditioning system and offer a limited offering of slots and table games.
The Rocksino is still on track for a groundbreaking in the Fall of 2020.