TERRE HAUTE — Officials with Churchill Downs broke ground on the "Queen of Terre Haute" casino in Vigo County on Tuesday.
The resort-style facility is predicted to bring $190 million in annual economic impact and create about 500 jobs. But what does that mean for the state?
The groundbreaking comes at a time when the Indiana Gaming Commission's May numbers show a decrease in statewide casino revenue compared to April. The numbers show that statewide casino revenue after successful bettors were paid totaled $211.9 million for May, an 8% decrease compared with April's $229.1 million figure.
However, experts say it’s not something to be concerned about.
"So far this year we haven't really seen any negative impact on the industry,” David Forman, the Vice President of Research at the American Gaming Association said. “Commercial gaming has brought in almost $20 billion through April of this year that’s up more than 20% over the same period last year.
But with inflation and interest rates rising, is now the best time to be building such a large project? Experts say that regardless of economic conditions casino's fair pretty well.
"Casinos have tended to be relatively recession-proof," Ed Feigenbaum with Indiana Gaming Insight said. "In fact, until we had the big global fiscal crisis in 2008-09 it seemed like the casinos and The Hoosier Lottery operated on almost a counter-cyclical basis. It seems like they would do a little better in tough times."
During the recession, there weren't nearly as many casinos as there are in the state now.
Once the Queen of Terre Haute is built there will be 14 total casinos in Indiana. Experts believe casinos aren't a risk to profits. However, the labor market and inflation could prove to be a dicey situation.
"We haven't seen inflation like this in 30 to 40 years,” Forman said. “At the time, casinos were just in one or two states. So, I think that is really the wild card when it comes to player discretionary spending but also the cost of things like building the new casino like they are doing there. “
According to the American Gaming Association, last year commercial gaming brought in $600 million in taxes for state and local governments. The new casino in Terre Haute is expected to open late 2023.