Terre Haute senator to seek use of unused Rising Star equipment

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State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute) announced on Wednesday, December 21st he will author a bill during the 2017 legislative session that would permit the construction of a new gaming and entertainment facility in Terre Haute.

Lane Siekman, executive director of the Rising Sun Ohio County Economic Development Corporation, was quick to post the senator’s plan to his Facebook page. The bill will allow Full House Resorts (FLL) to move half of the gambling games at the Rising Star Resort and Casino in Rising Sun.

Siekman said it is a good thing in my opinion. They are not using machines right now and they can use the extra space on the boat for other attractions.

Full House Resorts attempted to do the same with extra gaming equipment with a development at the Indianapolis Airport. That attempted failed.

The city of Rising Sun reported an increase in revenue from the casino in 2015. While gaming monies were $2 million less than 2013, the 2016 funding showed an increase of 5 percent in wagering tax plus an 8 percent increase in admission tax over 2015.

The popular Christmas Casino promotion has made the casino property more attractive. It is one of the many new ideas by the casino owners to make the property more attractive.

The Boone County (KY) Plan Commission and the Rising Sun Plan Commission have approved the use of land for a car ferry. Rising Sun approved an RV Park also.

Rising Sun City Council approved the recommendation from the city plan commission to amend the Rising Star Casino Planned Unit Development (PUD) at its Thursday, May 5th meeting. The amended preliminary PUD plans calls for 54 RV spots in the parking lot along Sixth and High Streets.

The new planned legislation would allow Rising Star Resort and Casino in Rising Sun to relocate up to half of its state-approved gambling games to a new gaming, dining and hotel venue in Terre Haute.

“This project would provide much-needed tax revenue, economic activity and jobs for Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley,” Ford said. “The gaming industry has done well for the state and host communities for the last 20 years – and for our region to participate would be a significant opportunity. This legislation can provide an economic boost to the Terre Haute area while protecting the positive impact gaming has had on the Rising Sun area.”

Ford noted that Terre Haute is at least two hours away from other Indiana and Illinois gaming operations, making it an ideal location for the proposed destination facility.

The development of the proposed Terre Haute facility, with construction estimated at between $100 and $150 million, is projected to create 1,250 jobs, generate tourism and provide reliable streams of tax revenue for Terre Haute and Vigo County.

The creation of this complementary entertainment venue in Terre Haute under the Rising Star license would also help to ensure long-term viability of the Rising Star facility and maintain the longstanding benefits received by the city of Rising Sun and Ohio County.

Ford plans to file the legislation when the Senate reconvenes in January.

“The opportunity is there, so I am creating a bill as a compromise that would keep the existing games in Rising Sun, allow that tax base to be maintained there and bring these unused state assets into a revenue producing environment,” Ford said.

“I think this legislation is within the (spirit of the) current legislation that has been set up,” Ford said. “I don’t view this as an expansion of gaming. We have given them a license for 1,500 positions, and they are not using half of them, so why not move those state assets to another community and generate state revenue?” Ford said.

Ford said the casino would require 20 to 25 acres and Full House Resorts would likely want to locate along Interstate 70 or another highway.

It could be up and running sometime in 2019, if legislation is approved by the Indiana General Assembly.

Indiana Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Terre Haute, and Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, will carry the issue in the House, Ford said.