Voters in Vigo County had a chance to say "yes" or "no" to bringing a casino to the Terre Haute area, near Indiana's western border with Illinois. According to the Tribune-Star of Terre Haute, the measure cruised to a decisive victory on Tuesday, with pro-casino votes accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total cast.
Around 64% of voters in the county voted yes to the casino with 36% voting against it. That was with 86 of the 88 precincts accounted for a little after 8 p.m. on Tuesday according to the Tribune-Star.
Now it appears the casino plans will move forward, something proponents touted as a much-needed provider of work for residents as well as a new entertainment option the city could pair with a downtown convention center to attract more visitors.
Approving the citywide referendum was the next step in the process of bringing a casino to the area that began when casino operator Spectacle Entertainment requested to relocate from Buffington Harbor in Gary to an inland location in Northwest Indiana. Spectacle partnered with Hard Rock to develop plans for the casino in Terre Haute in July.
The Indiana General Assembly approved the new casino soon after. With the measure now passed, the next step will be the application process run by the Indiana Gaming Commission to decide which operator is the best fit for the area.
According to the Tribune-Star, Indiana regulators will consider the overall economic benefits of the proposals before deciding who gets the license, which includes things such as projected tax revenues, the number of new jobs created and whether the operator has the intention and ability to invest at least $100 million in the project.
According to the Herald-Dispatch, operators Spectacle Entertainment and Full House Resorts have each stated interest in nabbing the casino license up for grabs in Vigo County and all proposals are due on Dec. 1.
The casino’s supporters were relieved to know voters in Vigo County agreed with their overall message that a casino in Terre Haute would have a huge economic impact on the state.
"I think it was a solid vote that shows Terre Haute was ready for this opportunity, and I'm very happy about the outcome," said State Sen. Jon Ford of Terre Haute, according to the Tribune-Star report. "The community came up during (the legislative) session and continued to work hard all summer and fall, and I think it sends a solid message to the rest of the state that Terre Haute is open for business, (and) we are working to together to move the community forward,”
Mayor Duke Bennett agreed.
“Now, we've got the chance to invest in ourselves," Bennett said. "We're going to bring in brand new money — about $10 million a year — that's going to come back and that we can take and invest in quality of life type of things."
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