The Indiana Gaming Commission voted on Friday afternoon to approve Spectacle Entertainment’s acquisition of both casinos in Gary.

The acquisition will give Spectacle control over Majestic Holdco LLC, which owns the Majestic Star Casino and the Majestic Star Casino II, both located on Lake Michigan's Buffington Harbor in Gary.

Spectacle is a relatively new company led by some of the same individuals who controlled Centaur Gaming before Centaur was bought by Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp. Rod Ratcliff, former chairman and CEO of Centaur Gaming, is the chairman and CEO of Spectacle, and John Keeler, the former general counsel for Centaur, is general counsel for Spectacle.

Ratcliff and Greg Gibson, an entrepreneur from Terre Haute who will serve as vice chairman of Spectacle, are the principal investors.

Spectacle hopes to close the gambling boats on the harbor and use the licenses attached to the casinos to open two new venues—one along the Interstate 80/Interstate 94 corridor in Gary and one in Terre Haute—as a way to generate more revenue from the licenses. 

Majestic Star and Majestic Star II are among the smallest casinos in the state. In fiscal 2018, Majestic Star ranked third lowest in total “win,” which is gambling revenue after payouts, with $92.2 million. Majestic Star II ranked second lowest with $59.8 million.

Both gambling boats opened in 1996. The casinos share a 300-room hotel room, six restaurants, meeting facilities and a 2,000-space parking garage.

Yearly total win amounts peaked at Majestic Star in 2005 at more than $140 million, but have not exceeded $100 million since 2013. Yearly win totals at Majestic Star II have been on the decline since 2011.

But the moves require approval from the Indiana General Assembly, which is considering the proposal in legislation that has passed the Senate and is before the House.

Keeler has told lawmakers that they expect the new Gary casino to be a $300 million development with a 200-room hotel. The new casino would hire an additional 400 employees—on top of the existing 800 employees now working at Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II. 

Gary officials have been supportive of the project, as they see an opportunity to develop Buffington Harbor into a logistics and transportation hub if the casinos are relocated.

The Terre Haute casino could cost between $100 million and $150 million and create 300 to 400 jobs.

Terre Haute officials have been lobbying the General Assembly for years to get a casino, arguing it would be economic boost for the area.

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