Terre Haute casino project moving away from sewage plant

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — The company that’s taken over stalled plans for a new casino in Terre Haute is dropping its proposed location overlooking the city sewage treatment plant and county jail.

Churchill Downs Inc. applied Monday with Vigo County officials to rezone land for the casino on the city’s east side near the Interstate 70-Indiana 46 interchange. The new site that is currently farm fields near FedEx and Clabber Girl distribution centers would replace the original site off U.S. 41 on the city’s west side.

That original site was criticized as an inferior location in a since-withdrawn lawsuit from a company that objected to the Indiana Gaming Commission’s decision in November to award the Terre Haute project license to Louisville, Kentucky-based Churchill Downs.

The company said many people in the community encouraged selection of a new location for its planned $240 million project that includes a casino, along with a 10-story, 125-room hotel with a rooftop lounge.

“We listened and today we’re excited to start down the path to groundbreaking on a nearly 50-acre (20-hectare) site that’s easily accessible from I-70 and State Road 46,” said Jason Sauer, senior vice president of corporate development for Churchill Downs.

County zoning officials are scheduled to consider the new site during March 2 meetings.

Indiana Gaming Commission deputy director Jenny Reske said the agency saw no legal barrier to Churchill Downs changing locations for the new casino and that the commission’s board could review the change during its March 8 meeting.

The state commission picked Churchill Downs for the Terre Haute project despite questions over its initial site. Its new location is near where the three other companies that applied for the license had lined up sites directly along or near Interstate 70 on the city’s east side.

The Terre Haute project would be Indiana’s 13th casino location, with the city about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Indianapolis becoming the state’s first new community to get one since 2008.

The project stalled in the past year amid an investigation into allegations of criminal and financial misconduct against top executives in an ownership group that originally sought the casino license in 2019. Officials sought a new company for the project after deciding in June against renewing a developer’s casino license because it hadn’t hired an executive team or secured full financing after more than a year.