The iconic Hard Rock guitar sign, seen here in a rendering for another casino, will be coming to Gary, Ind. as part of a $400 million agreement with Spectacle Entertainment, which owns the Majestic Star Casino in the city. (Image: Hard Rock International)
It also comes after the Indiana General Assembly passed an expanded gaming law in April allowing the casino’s move. As a result, the new Hard Rock Gary casino will operate under one license instead of two. However, the new casino just outside Chicago will be much larger.
The Hard Rock Casino will have up to 2,764 gaming positions, according to a news release. The Majestic Star’s boats currently combine to hold 1,620 slot machines and 63 table games. Horseshoe Hammond, Indiana’s largest casino and located about six miles west of Gary, features 2,173 slots and 150 table games.
The release did not mention a hotel as part of the project. However, it noted the project would include a Hard Rock Café, a Hard Rock Live concert venue, and several other restaurants and bars on a more than 40-acre plot less than a half hour away from Chicago. Spectacle will also pay a $20 million relocation fee to the state.
The project is expected to create more than 1,000 construction jobs and about 2,000 casino jobs.
“We’re confident this $400 million investment will serve as a significant catalyst for the continued economic revitalization of northwest Indiana and the City of Gary,” Spectacle Entertainment CEO Rod Ratcliff said in the release.
Company officials told the IGC back in March they hope to open the land-based casino by 2022.
Targeting Terre Haute
Spectacle’s plans with Hard Rock do not end, necessarily, in Gary.
The two companies also plan to compete for a casino in Terre Haute, Ind., according to the release. The same law that allowed Spectacle to move inland also allowed Terre Haute to receive the second Majestic Star license.
However, it’s not guaranteed Spectacle would retain that license. First, the measure must pass a countywide referendum in November. Then, the gaming commission would seek bids for the new casino.
Still, Spectacle has had its eye on the central Indiana town near the Illinois border since at least March. Company officials talked about possibly expanding to Terre Haute when the IGC approved the acquisition.
While the legislature had not yet determined how it would handle the second Majestic Star license in March – a point Ratcliff acknowledged to the commission during his discussion with them – Spectacle representatives frequently mentioned Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson’s involvement in the project.
(Gibson) thinks it’s a game changer for Terre Haute in a lot of ways, because of the market, the void in the market from… Illinois, that it pulls in there, and it’s… the jobs,” Ratcliff told the IGC in March. “The jobs are big for them over there. You know, that’s one of the things he talks about a lot.”
Ratcliff also mentioned the initiative had the support of Terre Haute officials as well.
In the press release, Gibson said the Terre Haute casino would create 500 jobs in the community.
After Indiana approved its gaming bill this year, Illinois lawmakers approved one as well that will set up competitors to Terre Haute and Indiana’s northwest casinos on the other side of the border.
Hard Rock Expansion Continues
Hard Rock’s growth into Indiana comes just three months after the company announced it would purchase a Cincinnati casino and a Northern Kentucky racetrack.
The company acquired JACK Cincinnati Casino and Turfway Park for $780 million from Jack Entertainment LLC. The transactions still must be approved by regulators in Ohio and Kentucky.