TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Lucy Luck could be running out of luck after the Indiana Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday not to renew the holding company’s casino license, putting yet another road block in the way of a casino coming to Terre Haute.
“We’ve worked our tails off to make this happen,” Lucy Luck president Greg Gibson said during the meeting. “We’re in a position to hire our team and begin construction.”
The IGC expressed concern that Lucy Luck’s financing was incomplete. It was also noted that an executive team has not yet been established.
“A very important part of that is to be able to review the full finance package,” IGC Deputy Director Jennifer Reske said. “Which means the package has adequate funding to construct a casino and to commence operations. We did not receive from Lucy Luck a full financial proposal.”
For now, property off of State Road 46 once expected to be home of Terre Haute’s first casino, will remain empty.
“It’s our job as commission staff and commission statutory to select an applicant and to renew licenses for companies that have high prospects for success,” Reske said. “We did not have a high level of confidence based on the information we received from the company,”
State Representative, Alan Morrison, helped develop legislation to bring a casino to Vigo County. He disagrees with the IGC’s decision.
“The decision by the gaming commission made today, which I believe it to be a horrible decision. I think the gaming commission has a lot of questions to answer. I’ll be pushing for those answers,” Morrison said.
He said that local investors were awaiting the approval of the state.
“What local bank would write a check for X amount of dollars on a project that hadn’t been approved by the state body, one that they were supposed to be working with?” Morrison said. “It’s all frustrating. We keep seeing these roadblocks after we’ve met requirements.”
Reske said that employees who have said to be a apart of Lucy Luck’s executive board at one time are no longer there.
“The information made when their approval was based is no longer true. Lucy Luck has lost important executive resources,” she said.
A letter dated April 26 to Lucy Luck Gaming, LLC in care of Greg Gibson informed the holding company of the potential loss of its license if the issues in question were not addressed.
“Commission staff has shown great commitment over the last year, while navigating unprecedented and challenging circumstances, to preserve a path forward for this project,” the letter read. “In preparing for the May Commission meeting, however, deficiencies that call into question Lucy Luck’s eligibility for renewal must be addressed. The ongoing deficiencies and issues impacting Lucy Luck’s suitability and the requirements of a privileged license have been communicated clearly and consistently for many months.”
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During the May meeting, approval of Lucy Luck’s financial plan was tabled. The IGC sited the fact that the license would be up for renewal as a reason to delay the vote.
The holding company reached a final management agreement with Hard Rock Cafe in May. The proposed casino was projected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to Wabash Valley residents, in addition to 700 construction jobs.
Terre Haute is also expected to gain $3.3 million in tax revenue within the first year of the casino being open and $23 million over the first seven years.
Lucy Luck will have the opportunity to remedy deficiencies addressed by the commission; however, it was noted that bringing a casino to Terre Haute takes priority. The holding company will have 90 days to be in compliance with IGC regulations and reapply for the license. In the meantime, the IGC will reopen to application process to the public.
Gibson released to following statement after the vote:
“The news we received today, although it wasn’t what we had anticipated or hoped for, isn’t the end of the journey. Lucy Luck Gaming has been prepared to begin construction on this project for months. We have worked tirelessly alongside many to bring this project to the Terre Haute community. We have developed our team, our finances, and detailed our operations to secure our license. However, more importantly, Terre Haute has worked hard for this project. The citizens have worked hard for this project. I am deeply disappointed in what came from today’s meeting, and disappointed that a community who has fought and stood ready received such news. I believe in my community, and I believe in this project. As for Lucy Luck, we may reapply, but I’m not sure if we will. We certainly have accomplished our original goal of bringing a gaming license to Vigo County. The community can take solace in the fact that there will eventually be a gaming facility here. It truly saddens me to know that the Terre Haute license will be open for a bidding process amongst companies who will be interested in the project solely for monetary gain, and with companies who don’t know our community like Lucy Luck does. For me, this project has always been about Terre Haute; it’s been about my home community. Terre Haute deserves this casino, and I wish it could be alongside Lucy Luck Gaming.”