Indiana Gambling Exec Rod Ratcliff to Sell Spectacle Entertainment Shares, Forfeit Casino License

  • The Indiana Gaming Commission reached a settlement with Ratcliff amid ongoing investigation
  • The agreement allows Spectacle's Hard Rock casino resort project in Gary to move forward
  • Ratcliff's former company Centaur Gaming is being probed over illegal campaign contributions 
  • Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana can pick up where it left off, with no influence from the exec
map close-up of the city of Gary in Indiana
The Indiana Gaming Commission has reached a settlement agreement with Rod Ratcliff which will see him give up his entire stake in Spectacle Entertainment and his state casino license. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A deal to save Spectacle

Indiana gambling industry executive Rod Ratcliff is giving up his ownership stake in gaming company Spectacle Entertainment. He is also set to permanently forfeit his casino license in the state after reaching a settlement agreement with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) on Tuesday.

he wasn’t a good fit for a state gaming license

Following a lengthy – and still ongoing – investigation into whether the former Spectacle CEO and chair used his position to influence political moves, the IGC had determined that he wasn’t a good fit for a state gaming license. It has now gone a step further.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, citing details released by the commission, Ratcliff is now being forced to sell his entire Spectacle ownership. The official release of the settlement agreement specifies that he will not “challenge or appeal” the IGC’s order.

The good news is that, in doing so, Ratcliff is allowing the casino resort project Spectacle has been working on with Hard Rock International (HRI) to move forward.

Allegations of political contributions

Ratcliff came under fire at the beginning of last year after it was revealed that his former company, Centaur Gaming, had potentially used its position and status to help sway political campaigns in Indiana. 

Following an FBI investigation that led to several arrests, it emerged that Ratcliff allegedly helped a former Republican Senator receive illegal campaign contributions.

A federal probe into whether the casino operator had made illegal campaign contributions is still ongoing, and Ratcliff’s ties to the company didn’t sit well with gaming regulators. The IGC began to dig deeper into his past and discovered that he may have broken a number of violations, leading to the commission’s filing in February to strip him of his operator license

Hard Rock Northern Indiana back on track

Spectacle and HRI began to build a $300-million casino resort in Gary, Indiana at the beginning of 2020, just prior to the revelation that Ratcliff and others had been involved in illegal political campaign activity. 

The news brought the project to a halt, but it will now be able to resume following the agreement reached between the gambling industry heavyweight and the IGC. Construction of the Spectacle-owned Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana will pick up where it left off, but with no influence on the part of Ratcliff.

Ratcliff’s stake will go to his Spectacle business partner, Greg Gibson, as well as to HRI. However, no information was provided on how much of a stake he controlled, or what the split will be. Ratcliff has continued to deny any wrongdoing, despite evidence to the contrary, and has agreed to not challenge the IGC’s decisions moving forward. 

what he wanted from the very beginning of this ordeal – to retire from Indiana gaming on his own terms”

A spokesperson for the commission, Robert Vane, said the settlement agreement gives Ratcliff “what he wanted from the very beginning of this ordeal – to retire from Indiana gaming on his own terms.” In a statement, he acknowledged Ratcliff’s contribution to the state, citing the “thousands of jobs for Hoosiers, millions of dollars of economic activity, and significant charitable investment in local communities.”