Vigo County, Indiana Voters Approve Casino Gambling

  • Yes votes won by a landslide, 63 to 37 percent
  • Vigo County first in Indiana to act on open casino license
  • State Senator proud of county and Terre Haute city unity
  • Casino expected to create hundreds of jobs, $10 million in tax revenue
people voting in some polling booths
Voters in Vigo County, Indiana approved a ballot measure on Tuesday to allow casino gambling in their county. [Image:]

63 percent of voters gave the thumbs-up

Voters in Vigo County, Indiana overwhelmingly passed a referendum to approve casino gaming.

63 percent of ballots were cast in favor of a casino in the Terre Haute area

In Tuesday’s election, 15,145 or 63 percent of ballots were cast in favor of a casino in the Terre Haute area. 8,729 voted against, with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

When casino gambling was legalized in Indiana in 1993, casinos were required to be located on the water. The rule was changed when racetracks were allowed to have slot machines and video poker. A casino in the Terre Haute area would be an “inland” casino. The casino license became available when legislation permitted Spectacle Entertainment to merge its two casinos in Gary to one inland location nearby. That left an open license for Vigo County and its county seat, Terre Haute.

State lawmaker proud of community’s statement

State Senator Jon Ford, one of casino gaming’s strongest supporters in the state legislature and a Terre Haute local, told the Tribune Star that if Vigo County didn’t make its move now, other places in Indiana would have. He said: “There’s no doubt that had we not seized this opportunity, other communities in Indiana were ready to come after this license.”

Though the prospect of bringing gambling to an area often results in a divide of the populace, Ford feels this has brought the community together:

“The community came up during 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.”

County, city hoping for economic boost

A study by The Innovation Group for the Casino Association of Indiana concluded that a casino could create as many as 650 full-time jobs and 140 part-time positions. It said more than 800,000 people could be expected to visit each year. The casino’s “total annual economic output” could exceed $180 million.

as many as 650 full-time jobs and 140 part-time positions

“Now, we’ve got the chance to invest in ourselves,” said Terre Haute mayor Duke Bennett. “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.”

A three-part revenue stream

The $10 million referenced by Bennett would come in three parts. The first is a “wagering tax”, estimated at $4.6 million. If the casino is within Terre Haute city limits, the city would get this money.

The second part, estimated at $2.6 million, is a tax for each person who steps foot in the casino. Terre Haute would get 40 percent of that, Vigo County would get 30, the Vigo County School Corporation would receive 15 percent, and regional economic development West Central 2025 would see the other 15.

The third piece is estimated to be anywhere from $2.7 million to $3 million. According to the Tribune Star, it is “a development agreement to be negotiated with local government on what and how funds are spent.”

Prospective operators – of which Spectacle Entertainment is one – now have until December 1 to submit their license applications.

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