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(TERRE HAUTE, Ind.) – The final step toward a Terre Haute casino could come six months from now.

Vigo County voters must approve legalized gambling. The law gives the county election board the option of holding that referendum this November or on the primary ballot next May. Terre Haute Senator Jon Ford, who co-authored the bill, says polling indicates seven out of 10 residents support the casino — he’d like to see the vote this fall so the project can get started sooner.

If it does pass, the state Gaming Commission will seek proposals from casino operators who want the license. Ford says he’ll be looking at the track record of the operators, but also the specifics of their plan for the casino. The law requires at least 35{b738c8d81c72d45da79d596f76991eeb044315dc3b27bc6668899a5a04085174} of the property to be devoted to non-gambling purposes. Ford says he wants something the whole community can enjoy, not just a warehouse full of slot machines.

Ford estimates it’d take a couple of years to pick a casino operator and build the casino. It’d be Indiana’s first new casino market since the French Lick casino opened in 2006. Ford says it’s a big economic development opportunity for a region which has lagged behind the rest of the state, and an opportunity which comes at no cost to the city in the form of tax breaks.

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