Belterra Casino drops $45M expansions

Due to a decision made by the Indiana legislature to allow slot machines at Indiana horse tracks, Belterra Casino has decided not to go ahead with a planned $45 million expansion of its hotel. The expansion would have added 250 rooms. According to The Madison Courier, casino owner, Pinnacle Entertainment, cited the legislation in its decision to postpone the expansion.

Pinnacle stated that it would move the money earmarked for Belterra to a different market. Larry Buck, regional manager for Pinnacle was quoted in the Courier as saying, “It’s going to take just enough business off the river that it’s going to leave a dent in the revenue and affect the job market and affect capital investment.”

Horse tracks in Anderson and Shelbyville will be allowed up to 2,000 slot machines each. Those favoring the legislation say that slot machines will boost attendance at the racetracks helping the horse industry as well as providing money for property tax relief. Licensing fees for the slot machines will infuse $550 million into property taxes for homeowners in the first two years.

The downside, of course, is that existing casinos in the southeastern part of the state report that approximately 16% of visitors to the gambling boats come from the Indianapolis area. Casino representatives believe that those customers will likely patronize the closer horse tracks instead. Buck commented that Pinnacle’s decision to spend its money in other markets is “just one example of the capital investment that is not going to be made as a direct result of the legislation.”