Full House Resorts makes its Vigo casino pitch

Goshen News

Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts, one of the competitors for the Vigo County casino license, on Thursday said it has signed an agreement with a general contractor for its proposed $250 million casino and hotel property should Full House be selected by the Indiana Gaming Commission.

That contractor would be Indianapolis-based F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co., Inc., said Alex Stolyar, senior vice president and chief development officer for Full House Resorts, which has applied for the casino license as FHR-Atlas LLC.

"We will use local contractors. ... It is a big project and want to make sure it is built right," he told a group of about 55 people at Idle Creek Golf Course Banquet Center, which included casino representatives and real estate representatives.

Full House's casino, which would be called American Place, would be located on 32 acres at 5995 E. Margaret Avenue, near the Interstate 70 and U.S. 40/Indiana 46 intersection. It would include a hotel and a glass "greenhouse" restaurant.

The proposal calls for a 100,000-square foot casino with 1,000 slots, 50 gaming tables and a 100-room hotel.

It is projected to create 1,800 construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs.

However, the company stated it has an agreement to locate a smaller, temporary casino in the Haute City Center mall (pending Indiana Gaming Commission approval) while its proposed facility is designed and constructed. That process is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

At Thursday's presentation, Avery Morgan of Terre Haute said he is collecting signatures for a petition he intends to send into the Indiana Gaming Commission asking the state agency to give favor to whichever casino operator provides manned poker tables.

"Poker is skilled-based versus just gambling," Morgan said afterward. "I have to drive 2 1/2 to 3 hours just to sit down and play poker, unless I can find a charity game around here."

Morgan has started a Facebook page called "Terre Haute Area Residents For a Poker Room At the New Casino."

Stolyar told Morgan that if if demand is shown, Full House would consider such tables. He said a temporary casino could be a place to determine that interest.

Stolyar said Full House, a publicly traded company, would hire 85 percent of its employees from Vigo County, adding the company's proposal has a 100-room hotel that has all four-star rooms, along with amenities such as spa and full time staff.

Full House Resorts, Stolyar said, projects the casino will generate $58 million in revenue for the county, city and others over five years. The casino would be located in Vigo County, which means a larger percentage of waging money would go to the county, instead of the city of Terre Haute.

One person questioned whether Full House's proposed hotel, which could be at least 90 feet in the air, would impact the approach area for Terre Haute Regional Airport's main runway. He also asked if the casino group had contacted the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Yes," Stolyar said of the FAA. "We are beyond clear" for flight approaches to the airport's main runway, he said.

"Basically the restricted area only runs over the northwest part of our site and, even in that area, the height restriction is 630 feet, give or take. We are building a big building but not approaching 600 feet and definitely not in that part" of the project, Stolyar said.

Full House first attempted to bring gaming to Terre Haute in 2017, seeking to move some gaming positions to Terre Haute from another Indiana casino. However, the satellite casino idea stalled in a General Assembly committee.

George Azar, owner of The Saratoga restaurant in downtown Terre Haute, asked if Full House would extend complimentary meals to local businesses, instead of just casino restaurants. Azar is also a member of the Terre Haute City Council.

"I asked this question four years ago, so I will ask it again," Azar said. "As a business owner in the downtown and as a person who promote people to shop local and eat local and stay local, I know that casinos give out comps (complimentary meals or hotel stays).

"Are you going to limit your comps to just what is on the casino property or are you going to extend those comps to local restaurants and hotels other than what is on the property," Azar said.

Stolyar answered, saying, "We have done those kinds of programs in the past and we definitely explore that here as well," he said.

"We would work with other local businesses ... there are lot of great restaurants and businesses in Terre Haute, so we would definitely look to expand into that."

Prior to the presentation, Jerry L. Monts and his wife, Carol A. Monts, each said they wanted to hear Full House's proposal as they think that proposal is best.

"We think the numbers are the best and their location is the best," Jerry Monts said.

"The location is prime and would have the most visibility," from Interstate 70, Carol Monts said. Both said they have been to casinos in Indiana and to others in Las Vegas.

Ending its presentation, Stolyar encouraged people to support Full House with comments to the Indiana Gaming Commission, which is accepting written comments until Nov. 12 at [email protected]

Other applicants for the Vigo County license are Terre Haute LLC (Hard Rock); CDITH LLC (Churchill Downs); and Terre Haute Entertainment LLC (Premier Gaming Group and Terre Haute Entertainment Holdings LLC).

The IGC plans to award a casino license at its Nov. 17 meeting.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or [email protected] Follow on .

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