Contractors, union leaders embrace plans for $300 million casino in Gary

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Rendering of the proposed new Gary casino

Spectacle Entertainment unveiled plans on Feb. 6 to construct a $300 million boutique casino, including a 200-room hotel, along the Borman Expressway in Gary, if the Indiana General Assembly permits the Majestic Star to move off its Lake Michigan dock.

Regional construction organization leaders expressed support for the proposal including Dewey Pearman, executive director of the Construction Advancement Foundation of Northwest Indiana, and Randy Palmateer, business manager of the Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council.

“Utilizing this area (Buffington Harbor) as an intermodal facility represents that area’s highest and best use,” Pearman said. “We believe that very substantial investment will occur at that location, over time, in the industrial and commercial arenas.”

“Locating one of the Gary casinos to a more desirable location in Gary on 80-94 will foster additional economic development for the city and job growth.”

Spectacle general counsel John Keeler told a Senate committee that a Gary land-based casino could generate $75 million annually in net new revenue for the state and create 400 jobs at the new location, growing Majestic’s current workforce by one-half, nwi.com reports.

However, if this work is to happen, the legislature would need to approve a gaming proposal that would send the second Gary casino license to Terre Haute without any payment to Gary, legalize sports wagering statewide, eliminate casino ownership caps and alter some gaming tax distributions.

Senate Bill 552 was unanimously approved by the Senate Public Policy Committee following more than three hours of public testimony, many from Northwest Indiana, both supporting and opposing the legislation.

After the bill is reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, it would go to full Senate for a decision on whether to advance it to the House.

Gary officials say the casino move is a necessary part of larger plans to transform the casino’s current site at Buffington Harbor into a multimodal shipping hub.

The published report said:

Those plans call for using a Lake Michigan port, as well as an adjacent freight rail terminal, the city’s interstate highway access and nearby airport to entice shippers to bypass the crowded Chicago rail yards and instead transfer and warehouse their products at Gary.

“What we see, and what is a distinct opportunity and possibility for us, is the ability to create jobs, the ability to increase our tax revenue and the ability to really transform both the perception and the reality of our community,” said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

In addition, Terre Haute officials were enthusiastic about the plan after several years of disappointment at the Statehouse when the west-central Indiana city could not land a casino.

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