Ratcliff’s Suspension Has not Resolved Trustee Issue – Indiana Gaming Commission
The Indiana Gaming Commission voted to suspend Rod Ratcliff’s gaming license three weeks ago and thereafter ordered that there be no exertion of any control whatsoever by the casino executive over Spectacle Entertainment. This has left his seat vacant, and there has been no indication of someone overseeing his ownership stake.
The gaming commission unanimously approved Order 2020-168 on December 23, 2020, requesting Ratcliff to restart his trust agreement and with the approval of the commission replace his current trustee with someone acceptable to the body latest on Friday. The term acceptable was defined, as someone without ties to the Indianapolis company and Ratcliff, with no interest whatsoever in a Spectacle entity or affiliate brand.
The statement issued by the Indiana Gaming Commission regarding the Order reads thus;
“Identifying the method to effectuate the Order is a priority of Commission staff, and the parties are demonstrating good faith efforts to comply. This matter is receiving attention daily. A trustee has not been named as of today’s date. Provided the collaborative nature and good faith efforts continue, Commission staff will not pursue action for non-compliance with Order 2020-168 without five days written notice to the parties.”
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The commission made it public on Wednesday that there have been no changes since the above statement was released on Monday.
The license of the founder and former chairman and CEO of Spectacle, Rod Ratcliff, was suspended after a deep investigation into the gaming industry, that lasted close to a year. With the suspension duration pegged at 90 days, after which the commission may seek to revoke his license. Ratcliff has been a part of the Indiana gaming industry since the 1990s.
Amongst the Spectacle’s portfolio is the ownership of the Majestic Star Casino, Gary, Indiana. They also have a partnership agreement with Hard Rock International, for the execution and completion of the Hard rock Northern Indiana land-based casino.
The Investigation into Spectacle Expands
The investigation was initially based on the illegal campaign donations made by Ratcliff’s former business, Centaur Gaming. As the investigation grew and got deeper a lot more improprieties were uncovered.
The illegal campaign donations made up for a part of a federal investigation. The IGC investigators claim to be in possession of some information that suggests Ratcliff is the unnamed executive who secretly met with political consultant Kelley Rogers in April 2015 in Indianapolis to come up with a means for Centaur to fund the Darryl Brent Waltz then Congressional campaign.
This involved consultants using individuals to make donations to Waltz’s Republican primary campaign for the Ninth District. After which bogus invoices were sent to Centaur for alleged research projects. Upon payment by Centaur, the consultants give refunds to the agreed contributors.
John Keeler, a former Spectacle and Centaur executive, was indicted in September, alongside Darryl Brent Waltz. Keeler also had his license suspended in September, and his license was voted to be terminated at the December 23 meeting. Consultant Charles O’Neil and Kelly Rodgers were both sentenced last year for their roles in the scheme.
Hard Rock Gary Placed on Hold
On January 23, 2020, two weeks after the Spectacle executives alongside their counterparts at Hard Rock International celebrated their partnership and the new Gary casino, the investigation began. This led to a three-month delay in the approval of the Terre Haute license. This has resulted in the IGC officials putting a hold on the operation of the Hard Rock casino in Gary.
The Executive Director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, Sara Tait was quoted saying…
“With all of the uncertainties surrounding the license, staff is focused upon maintaining the operations of the current profitable casino. Depriving it of its valuable assets would undermine casino operations to the detriment of casino employees, the city of Gary, and of the state.”