Churchill Downs Inc. came up a winner in the race for a license to build a casino in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The citizens of Vigo County voted in 2019 to approve a casino in Terre Haute. That set the stage for Wednesday’s decision from the Indiana Gaming Commission, which voted 7-0 to award the casino bid to CDI, according to a report in the Tribune-Star newspaper in Terre Haute.
Churchill Downs is famed for owning the iconic Louisville horse racing track by the same name – the site of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, each May. CDI also operates the TwinSpires sportsbook, rebranded from the BetAmerica name, and seven retail books.
In addition, the company has brick-and-mortar casinos in eight states and the TwinSpires online casino brand.
Last week, the Indiana Gaming Commission had opened a period for public comments on the four competitors for the casino project.
The IRC then held a hearing on Wednesday to hear bids from the four applicants: Churchill Downs, Full House Resorts, Hard Rock and Premier Gaming.
The IRC heard presentations from all four operators and asked questions of each. After that, the field was whittled to two – Churchill Downs and Full House. The commission rejected Full House by a 5-2 vote, then approved the CDI bid (technically called CDITH, LLC), according to the Tribune-Star.
One technicality remains, according to a report from Louisville Fox-TV affiliate WDRB: The commission must settle an appeal for another casino, Lady Luck, not to renew its license.
“We are thrilled for this opportunity and honored for the trust that the Indiana Gaming Commission has placed in CDI and our plan to bring a true destination casino resort to West Central Indiana,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a media release issued by the company.
According to the Churchill Downs release, the company plans to invest $240 million in the casino. The project will include 1,000 slot machines, 50 table games, a 125-room hotel and a TwinSpires Sportsbook.
The planned site for the casino, to be called Queen of Terre Haute, is on Honey Creek Drive near Haute City Center Mall, the Tribune-Star report said.
There are no real money online casino options in Indiana. State Sen. Jon Ford has advocated for iGaming to come online in the Hoosier State but the bill he filed this year went nowhere, not even reaching the committee stage.
Online sports betting in Indiana has been a major success. The state set a record in September for sports betting handle at $355.4 million, then surpassed that easily in October with handle in excess of $461.1 million.