The Indiana Gaming Commission has approved plans for Horseshoe Southern Indiana to move its riverboat casino operations inland with the construction of an $85 million facility.
Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp. received unanimous approval Tuesday for the project in Elizabeth, along the Ohio River near Louisville.
Caesars had threatened not to pursue the project after the Indiana Gaming Commission and Indiana lawmakers declined to act on on the company's request for the state to waive a $50 million transfer fee tied to its acquisition of Indianapolis-based Centaur Gaming LLC and its Hoosier Park casino and racetrack in Anderson and Indiana Grand casino and racetrack in Shelbyville. State law requires the fee.
According to the News and Tribune of New Albany, Caesars yanked its request for the inland casino last month after lawmakers opted not to weigh in on the issue. It put the plan back on the Indiana Gaming Commission agenda about two weeks later. IGC chairman Michael McMains declined to answer the newspaper's questions about the fee Tuesday during a special meeting.
The gaming commission's board members will make the final call, probably in May or June, when they review the deal.
The inland casino, made possible by a 2015 law that allows riverboat casinos to move to land as long as they stay within their existing footprint, will connect to Horseshoe's current pavilion, which houses restaurants and stores.
Caesars said the casino will include restaurants, an entertainment venue and retail outlets. The project also includes renovations to Horseshoe's existing meeting and convention space. Caesars is in the final stages of designs for the facility.
The casino could open in 2019.