Indiana bettors will soon have a new place to gamble, with Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana (pictured above) opening its doors on Friday in a star-studded ceremony. [Image: Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana Twitter]
Celebrities and gambling
After more than two years of planning and construction, the $300m Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana is finally ready to open its doors.
Tito, Jackie, and Marlon Jackson are all expected to attend the ceremony
The new casino in Gary, Indiana will hold a grand opening event on Friday featuring a host of celebrity guests. Aligning with the venue’s Jackson family theme, Tito, Jackie, and Marlon Jackson are all expected to attend the ceremony. The event will also feature Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath.
Last month, the casino’s Twitter page posted a video providing a “sneak peak” of the venue’s high limits room:
The property boasts a 150,000 square-foot casino floor, including gaming options such as blackjack, roulette, craps, slot machines, and video poker. The casino also offers an on-site sportsbook, while guests can dine at the property’s multiple restaurants or watch live entertainment in the 1,942-seat Hard Rock Live performance venue.
The process of construction
In 2019, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed a casino bill into law. House Enrolled Act 1015 authorized retail and mobile sports wagering in the state’s casinos. The legislation also allowed gaming operator Spectacle Entertainment, owner of two Majestic Star gaming riverboats in northwest Indiana, to relocate its casinos to a land-based facility in downtown Gary.
In partnership with Hard Rock International (HRI), Spectacle began construction on the $300m casino resort in January last year. Much like plans for the casino’s grand opening on Friday, the ground-breaking ceremony also featured Gary residents Tito, Jackie, and Marlon Jackson.
During this event, Jon Lucas, chief operating officer for HRI, outlined his expectations for the new casino. “We’re not about just building a box with slots and tables in it,” he said. “You will find that our food and beverage and restaurants, along with our entertainment, is what really helps to sell the brand and helps to create the excitement in our facility.”
The casino’s grand opening marks the completion of only the first phase of the property’s development. According to HRI, the venue will get a new 200-room hotel and multi-level parking garage in phase two of construction.
Ratcliff controversy put to bed
Although HRI and Spectacle completed the construction of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in a relatively short time span, the development was not without its problems. Spectacle owner and CEO Rod Ratcliff came under fire at the beginning of 2020, accused of using his position and status to help sway political campaigns in Indiana.
Ratcliff had committed a number of violations
Once the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) began digging deeper into the allegations, it found that Ratcliff had committed a number of violations, including offering a politically connected man a CEO role at Spectacle. As a result, the regulator began the process of stripping Ratcliff of his operating license in February this year, putting the Hard Rock casino’s future in jeopardy.
Ratcliff ultimately reached a settlement agreement with the IGC the following month. He gave up ownership of Spectacle and permanently forfeited his Indiana casino license. Although perhaps bad news for Ratcliff, this allowed HRI to move forward with its Gary casino.