Casino mogul Roderick Ratcliff sues Indiana Gaming Commission after license suspension

Wednesday 20th January 2021

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Indiana casino mogul Roderick Ratcliff is suing the Indiana Gaming Commission after the agency suspended his gaming license and required him to sell his shares in the Hard Rock Casino Gary, which is set to open this year.

In a legal complaint filed in Lake County Superior Court on Wednesday, Ratcliff's lawyers allege commissioners violated his 14th amendment right to due process when they brought disciplinary actions against him in December 2020 after his business partner was indicted by a federal grand jury for making illegal campaign contributions.

The commission gave him "no notice, no hearing, and no process before they stripped him of his license and his ability to sell his shares on his own terms" to Hard Rock International, according to the complaint.

"By operating outside of its legal scope and unfairly judging Mr. Ratcliff as guilty by association, the Indiana Gaming Commission has created a problem where none existed and delayed what will be a significant contributor to the Lake County economy," Robert Vane, a spokesperson for Ratcliff, said in a media statement.

"He and his team have been working to meet the demands of the Commission, but he will not surrender his constitutional rights in the process."

Ratcliff has not admitted to any wrongdoing. IndyStar has reached out to the Indiana Gaming Commission requesting comment.

Ratcliff was chairman and CEO of Spectacle Entertainment before quietly resigning in June. His resignation came months after the FBI and the commission launched investigations into his business partner, John Keeler, for potential campaign finance violations.

Keeler was eventually indicted for an alleged straw donor scheme that funneled money into Indiana state senator Brent Waltz's 2015 campaign for the U.S. House. Keeler and Ratcliff were previously business partners at Centaur Inc., a gaming company, before they launched Spectacle Entertainment in 2018.

The indictment alleges the scheme was arranged during a 2015 meeting at the Indianapolis International Airport between a Virginia political consultant and an unnamed Centaur executive. The Indiana Gaming Commission believes that executive was Ratcliff, according to its Dec. 23 order suspending Ratcliff's license.

Ratcliff and Keeler have refused to speak with Indiana Gaming Commission investigators, according to the order. Ratcliff has not been charged with any crime.

More: Indiana officials forcing out longtime casino executive

Spectacle Entertainment is overseeing the construction of the Hard Rock Casino Gary, a $300 million project being produced in partnership with Hard Rock International.

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