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Voters To Decide On Terre Haute Casino Question

possible rendering of a Vigo County casino

(Spectacle Entertainment)

Two casino companies have expressed interest in Terre Haute, with one touting a project of at least $100 million that would have 300 to 400 workers. They have until Dec. 1 to submit proposals to the Indiana Gaming Commission, which would select an operator for the license.

In October, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said he was a little concerned about the fact that neither company has submitted a proposal amid declining casino revenue across the state.

“The more casinos you have, the more the money gets diluted, including online sports gaming now, so that's a whole new piece that just started,” he says. “I think we'll still do well here, there's nothing that tells me we won't.”

Indiana legalized sports betting earlier this year. It officially began in casinos in September and on mobile platforms in October.

Bennett says talk of building the new casino by I-70 and away from Terre Haute’s downtown area makes sense.

“In the past, everyone wanted casinos downtown along the river to be that big tourist destination, but it's harder to get people who are traveling,” he says.

In September, a group has started a campaign aimed at building voter support for allowing the casino to go ahead.

Sara Smith, Treasurer of the The Advance West Central Indiana Political Action Committee says the casino would create 150 to 200 new construction jobs and 400 to 600 permanent casino jobs.

“Someone like a valet could anticipate a salary of 25,000 dollars, but a slot supervisor could be making 39,000 dollars a year, an audit manager 87 thousand dollars a year,” says Smith.

The group says the casino could mean $7 million or more a year in tax revenue to local government and schools.

But the group Casino Free Vigo County says on its website a new casino would be a disservice to people gambling addictions.

Smith says the local chamber of commerce is working with health care providers on making sure there are enough addiction counselors on staff.

“The individuals who have gambling addictions, are already finding ways to feed those addictions now, so just because we’ll have one closer by is not going to increase that rate,” says Smith.

If there referendum is approved, the casino could be open for business by the winter of 2021.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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