Report: Holcomb got private flights from casino magnate

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A newspaper reported that a casino magnate treated Gov. Eric Holcomb to two private jet flights last year and made big donations to Holcomb’s largest 2016 campaign donor while he was pushing for changes to Indiana law that would benefit his business.

The Indianapolis Star reported Spectacle Entertainment’s CEO and chairman, Rod Ratcliff, flew Holcomb to Colorado and Arizona meetings hosted by the Republican Governors Association.

Those chartered flights were among $500,000 Ratcliff and his companies contributed last year to the Republican Governors Association, which largely funded Holcomb’s 2016 campaign.

The flights gave Ratcliff and his business partners exclusive access to Holcomb, who will have final say over their plans to move two Gary casinos to more lucrative locations. Spectacle Entertainment owns the Gary casinos.

Holcomb’s campaign treasurer called the flights “perfectly legal and customary.”

The news came after state lawmakers significantly amended a major gambling bill on Wednesday, removing language that would have allowed mobile sports betting and adding a huge relocation fee for the owner of the Gary’s casinos, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.  

The Indiana House Public Policy Committee approved the amendments authored by committee chairman Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, despite concerns from some representatives. 

The changes to Senate Bill 552 included adding a $100 million fee for moving one of the casinos in Gary from Buffington Harbor on Lake Michigan to another part of the city. They also removed a provision that would have allowed horse-track casinos to offer live-dealer table games this year instead of the already approved date of of 2021 and eliminated the financial support other communities, associations and casinos would have received if the Gary casinos are moved. 

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