Indiana Gaming Commission fines Spectacle $530K for slow removal of CEO

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The Indiana Gaming Commission has fined Spectacle Entertainment more than a half-million dollars for not initially complying with an order to remove its former CEO and chairman from any ownership or oversight of the company.

In December, the commission temporarily suspended longtime casino executive Rod Ratcliff’s gaming license after connecting him to a federal campaign finance scheme, and it ordered Spectacle to remove Ratcliff as a trustee of the Roderick J. Ratcliff Revocable Trust and replace him with someone acceptable to the commission.

Ratcliff filed a lawsuit to challenge that decision, but earlier this month, the commission and Ratcliff reached a settlement agreement that involved permanently banning Ratcliff from Indiana’s casino industry and required him to sell his remaining casino ownership shares. As part of the settlement, Ratcliff dropped the lawsuit.

But the 53-day lag between when the commission ordered Spectacle to remove Ratcliff from his role as an owner to when the company complied was unacceptable, according to Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Gonso Tait.

So, on Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to impose a $530,000 fine on Spectacle for not immediately complying with the December order.

Tait said a casino owner licensee has never failed to comply with an order from the commission before, so she felt it was necessary to discipline the company.

“If this was left unaddressed, we would be sending a dangerous message to not only the public but also to our other licensees that we regulate,” Tait said.

Ratcliff previously served as chairman and CEO of Centaur Gaming and as CEO and chairman of Spectacle Entertainment.

Centaur owned and operated the state’s two horse-track racing casinos until selling the Anderson and Shelbyville properties to Caesars Entertainment in 2018. Spectacle Entertainment now operates the Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II casinos on Lake Michigan and is partnering with Hard Rock to construct a $300 million land-based casino in Gary that will replace those riverboats.

The new Gary casino is expected to open May 15.

The commission has been — and continues to be — investigating Spectacle. In February, when the commission first took action to permanently revoke Ratcliff’s gaming license, investigators alleged that Ratcliff had funneled money from Centaur into a personal gambling account and repeatedly concealed financial information from the commission that should have been disclosed.

That’s in addition to Ratcliff’s association with a federal campaign finance scheme and his refusal to work with the agency’s investigators, the commission has said.

On Tuesday, Tait said that “much is still unknown.”

“I am hopeful that we are entering a stage, following many dark months, where we’re moving forward,” Tait said.

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