On Tuesday this week, business leaders engaged in the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce’s latest “all in” campaign grouped together to form the Advance West Central Indiana Political Action Committee, also known as PAC.
The group will be involved in and responsible for spreading word about the proposed casino along with the benefits it could bring to the county. John Collett, the committee chairman and head of the supporting party, said the campaigners will be “informing and educating the community” about the prospects of a larger gambling landscape.
Collett also explained to press how advocates behind the casino felt they needed to treat it (pushing for the new casino) “like a campaign, as if we were running for mayor,” albeit advocates “didn’t feel the chamber was the correct avenue for PAC,” he added.
Questions Will Need Answering
Though the committee hasn’t yet outlined plans for the support’s fundraising scheme, Collett explained it would take at least 6 figures in order “to do it the right way” in terms of polling and getting the facts out surrounding the impact of the new casino.
On the official PAC website (www.CasinoTerreHaute.com), it states how Indiana law neither prohibits nor limits contribution of questions on public matters much like this. Political action committees along with gaming operators are also free to make uncapped contributions to public questions, according to the website.
The PAC committee stated that “some interest” has been shown from both Spectacle Entertainment as well as Full House Resorts; both of which are vying for a casino license in Vigo County. On Tuesday afternoon, a message for comment was delivered to Spectacle’s general counsellor John Keeler, who apparently did not respond.
One of Spectacle Entertainment’s principal partners is gaming executive Rod Ratcliff, and local businessman Greg Gibson. Mr. Gibson is also one of the founders of RJL Solutions, alongside Rachel J. Leslie. The company is a Terre Haute-based public relations and lobbying firm. Both have been working closely with the chamber on the questions for the ballot which were sent out in Tuesday’s press release. The news primarily announced the formation of PAC and their future goals for the casino.
According to Collett, building trades and unions, along with other businesses and firms will also be solicited.
“The fact that we had to battle other casino communities so hard at the statehouse in order for us to bring a casino to Terre Haute was incredibly telling,” Brian Koostra, the political action committee’s secretary, announced in the news release.
“Casinos are an important asset that communities will fight vigorously to protect. It was clear those casinos were a valuable resource for their local communities. I want that for Terre Haute, too,” Koostra said.
Additional Benefits of a New Casino
The news release also said that PAC will be discussing the prospect of over 400 new job positions opening if a casino came to town. Revenue streams and additional developments were also mentioned as a result.
Also in the release, Vigo County residents were asked to submit their “Vote yes on #1”, which Collett said was related to the casino question; which will be the first item addressed at the two forthcoming referendums on November 5.
2 referendums would cause the added issue of a proposed property tax hike; something which would soften the blow of the recent tax increase of $7 million in operating revenue for public schools over the next 8 years.
“In an ideal world, we would rather just have the one referendum,” Collett said. “I don’t think they fight each other. With the school corporation, they’re asking for revenue and we’re just asking should we have a casino that generates revenue.”
The PAC’s treasurer, Sara Smith said how the campaign is formed up of 3 key themes.
“It’s about educating the voter base, helping them understand the short term and long term benefits a casino can bring to a community and impacting positive change for the future,” Smith announced. “This is our opportunity to attract critical resources to strengthen the entire community.”
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