Earlier this week, it was announced by Hard Rock International that its brick-and-mortar casino in Gary will open on May 14. Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas says that it seems the speed bumps blocking the venue are over and services will move forward as planned. The property will host a Friends and Family event on May 11. Two days later, a VIP opening will take place.
Long and Bumpy Road
It was a difficult road for Hard Rock to get to this point. Before the announcement was made, the board of directors with the Indiana Gaming Commission changed orders originally made by the regulator, calling for the former chief executive officer and chairman of Spectacle Entertainment to get rid of his ownership ties to entities connected to the Majestic Star Casinos.
Rod Ratcliff had to let go of his ties along with giving up his Indiana gaming license. The board also decided to approve a settlement deal with Spectacle to the tune of $530,000. This was approved because the company took over 50 days to follow an order that would see Ratcliff removed and replaced with someone else.
Hard Rock and Spectacle are teamed up in the Gary project, with the project costing $300 million to create. They are also partnered in a deal that includes a casino titled Lady Luck. This venue is located in the Terre Haute area.
The Commission was not happy that it took so long to remove Ratcliff. Sara Tait, the Executive Director of the Commission said that a casino licensee has never failed to comply with an order in over 50 days. She, along with other commission members felt that the fine was necessary to maintain the integrity of gaming in the state.
The Commission filed a complaint back in February with Lake Superior Court to see the gaming license of Ratcliff’s in Indiana revoked for good. The regulator cited several examples of possible wrongdoing by Ratcliff including his alleged connection with a scheme involving political campaign contributions.
Ratcliff has also supposedly taken money from the company to fund his betting account for horse racing and not reporting it when he was supposed to. All of this is what led to the removal of the license.
These legal issues threatened to postpone the new Hard Rock casino from opening. The Commission has found the remaining individuals involved in the project to be in good standing. The regulator also feels that it is important that this economic development project move forward as it will benefit the city and its residents.