Traffic snarls and no show celebrities didn’t put a damper on the grand opening of the Indiana Live Casino on March 13. People showed up in such numbers that the casino reached its 8,000 person capacity at 9 pm and literally had to close its doors with disappointed gamblers still lined up outside.
Its not surprising that the $200 million dollar facility drew such a crowd with its Vegas style gambling, fine dining and top level entertainment promised. All 2,000 slot machines at the new facility were in use within the first hour of opening and pretty much were seeing nonstop action until the time the casino closed. There were also long lines at the bar and long waits for a chance to eat dinner.
While the biggest names in the gambling industry are experiencing massive financial difficulties in the current economy, local gaming facilities seem to be holding their own and turning profits and more keep being built. People still want to relax and have a good time and with a local casino, they don’t have to worry about the expense of travel and accomodations. The smaller, local facilities are contributing a lot to local economies so most city officials are welcoming to them.
“We’ve created over 750 jobs. We’ve employed more than 2,000 construction workers. We’ve created hundreds of vendor opportunities for small and local businesses and regional businesses and we’ve paid over $300 million to the state in our fees and taxes,” said Indiana Live’s general manager Mark Hemmerle.
The mayor of Indianapolis, Jim Meyers, has been one of the casino’s biggest cheerleaders, saying “So I think the casino’s gonna do a lot for the economy in this area and I think it just adds something to the whole city of Indianapolis, really.”
One thing has marred the opening for many people and that is the speculation surrounding the celebrity guests that didn’t show up. Justin Timberlake was supposed to be there to participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony and that was part of the attraction for the crowds. Unfortunately, they were disappointed when the star never showed up.
There have been accusations of the whole thing being a publicity stunt and hoax which the mayor has vigorously denied but the casino management hasn’t given any statements. Mayor Meyers stated that the president of Cordish Cos., which operates the casino, is a friend of Timberlakes’s and truly thought he was going to be there.