Spectacle’s licence yanked for staff members’ alleged election tampering

By Charlotte Lee Updated
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A former casino chairman has become embodied in an alleged election tampering saga which has led to his casino licence being revoked.

Calvin Ayre reports former chief executive officer and Spectacle Entertainment chairman Rod Ratcliff is the subject of an Indiana Gaming Commission investigation into Ratcliff and several people tied to Spectacle and Centaur Gaming.

Ratcliff, along with the casino operator’s vice president and general counsel John Keeler, who has already been indicted on charges of campaign fraud are subject of the investigation.

A lot of underhanded dealings were said to have been conducted to try to help Brent Waltz, now a former Indiana senator, win a seat in Congress.

Charges included conspiracy, falsification of documents, obstruction of justice, receipt of illegal campaign funds and more.

Ratcliff was never charged in the case, however his proximity to the others forced him into the hot seat.

During its investigation, the IGC found a number of violations at Spectacle that raised red flags.

They also determined that he had been involved in overseeing operations at Spectacle’s Majestic Star Casino in Gary after he resigned as the company’s chairman and CEO.

Not only was he an outsider at that point, but he also disobeyed a direct order from the IGC not to get involved.

As the investigation advanced, other troubling activity was uncovered.

The IGC reports that Ratcliff had an undisclosed account with racing betting platform FastBet and while running Centaur, would have employees make deposits from Centaur operations to that account.

It is believed he received about $900,000 over four years, with the money being logged in Centaur’s books as “marketing” expenses.

Due to the repeated offences and lack of moral compass, the IGC determined that “based on the information in this complaint, respondent does not have the high standards of character and reputation required of a licensee in Indiana.

“Any one of these matters, individually, should lead to revocation of his licensee.”

It added that the FastBet issue could lead to additional charges being levied against Ratcliff.

The removal of Spectacle’s licence could put Hard Rock International’s Indiana plans in jeopardy, as has been previously suggested.

It is expected to take control of the assets of Centaur’s Majestic Star riverboats to launch a new Hard Rock Northern Indiana in Gary, but might find this to be a difficult task requiring a new licence application, not a simple transfer.

Hard Rock takes Greek casino bid to court

An American casino operator has had no luck overturning the Greek government’s decision to award an integrated resort licence to its competitor, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment.

Calvin Ayre reported in September that Greece’s highest court rejected Hard Rock’s latest appeal of the government’s decision to award the sole casino licence for the 8 billion euro Hellinikon resort on the site of Athens’ old airport to MGE and its local partner, construction giant GEK Terna.

In January, the Hellenic Gaming Commission disqualified Hard Rock’s bid due to its alleged failure to provide a bank guarantee attesting to its ability to see such a massive project through to completion.

Hard Rock protested that its guarantee had only arrived four days late and accused the commission of being biased toward Mohegan’s bid.

Hard Rock’s efforts to overturn the ruling found little traction in the Greek courts, but the company is exploring its options with European Commission courts.

There’s still time for an appeal, as Greece doesn’t expect to formally issue its casino licence until next year, after it’s received Mohegan’s binding financial offer, meaning construction on the perpetually delayed project won’t start until 2022 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Hard Rock’s 2 billion euro Hard Rock Entertainment World resort project in Spain continues to languish, as opposition politicians protest the Catalan government putting up cash to ensure the project moves forward.

In March, Hard Rock worked out a deal with the government under which state-run firm Incasol would spend 120 million euro to buy the land, on which the resort is to be built and Hard Rock would repay the sum by May 5.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decimation of Hard Rock’s casino operations and left it cash strapped, so in April, the government agreed to delay the repayment until October 5.

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