West Virginia Gaming News

Spectacle Faces Indiana Gaming Commission Investigation

Spectacle Entertainment, the operator of two Lake Michigan riverboat casinos, is facing scrutiny from the Indiana Gaming Commission after a Maryland political consultant pleaded guilty to illegally directing funds from an Indiana casino company to a state lawmaker who ran for the US Congress in 2015.

While the company involved in the illegal corporate contributions made to the congressional candidate was identified as “Company A” in papers in the federal case in Virginia, the Indiana Gaming Commission said Friday that the case involved executives of Centaur Gaming.

Centaur’s CEO and General Counsel founded Spectacle. In the fall of 2017, Centaur sold Indiana’s two racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville to casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. in a $1.7 billion deal.

CEO Rod Racliff and General Counsel John Keeler then formed Spectacle. They have been occupying the same positions in the new company, which purchased the two Majestic Star riverboat casinos shortly after it was established.

The Indiana Gaming Commission’s investigation into Spectacle was initiated after Charles O’Neil, Vice President of Virginia-based political consultancy firm Strategic Campaign Group, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make illegal campaign contributions, which included $15,000 being funneled in corporate funds from Centaur.

There have been indications that the congressional candidate who received the illegal contributions was former Indiana Senator Brent Waltz of Greenwood. The former Senator ran for the US House of Representatives in 2015.

Terre Haute Casino Bid Might Be in Danger

As mentioned earlier, Spectacle purchased the two Lake Michigan Majestic Star riverboat casinos not long after it was founded. As part of a sweeping gambling reform that was passed in Indiana last summer, the company was authorized to move one of the casinos onto dry land not far from its original location. Spectacle announced at the time that the relocation of the facility would be part of a larger plan for the development of a $400 million casino resort in Gary.

The company surrendered the other riverboat casino license to the Indiana Gaming Commission. Under the gambling expansion legislation approved last summer, that vacant license was supposed to be used for a casino in Terre Haute. Spectacle was the only company to submit a bid for the license.

The Indiana gambling regulator was expected to grant the company permission to build a casino in Terre Haute during its scheduled February 7 meeting. However, Gaming Commission canceled the meeting on Friday, following news about Spectacle’s involvement in the illegal political contributions case in Virginia.

Commission Deputy Director Jennifer Reske said in a statement that the information we received is concerning and the Commission has begun a review pursuant to its statutory responsibilities into this matter.”

Spectacle’s executives have not commented on the matter yet. Indiana news outlets reported last March that the company’s CEO had treated state Gov. Eric Holcomb and his wife to private jet flights in 2018 as they all traveled together for meetings hosted by the Republican Governors Association in Colorado and Arizona.

Gov. Holcomb faced state ethics review for his dealings with Spectacle’s management, but the state’s inspector general established that Indiana’s top official committed no wrongdoing as the flights were provided to his group rather than his office.

Spectacle’s executives were active lobbyists for the expansion of the state’s gambling industry and the authorization of the relocation of riverboat casinos onto dry land.

Source:Company planning new Indiana casino faces investigation

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