Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Got Private Flights From Casino Magnate

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Got Private Flights From Casino Magnate
This article was written and Published by the Indy Star.  It was also published by Indiana Lawyer and Associated Press and Indianapolis Business Journal Staff
March 28, 2019
The Indy Star just reported that a casino magnate treated Gov. Eric Holcomb to two private jet flights last year and made big donations to Holcomb’s largest 2016 campaign donor while he was pushing for changes to Indiana law that would benefit his business.
The Indianapolis Star reported Spectacle Entertainment’s CEO and chairman, Rod Ratcliff, flew Holcomb to Colorado and Arizona meetings hosted by the Republican Governors Association.
Those chartered flights were among $500,000 Ratcliff and his companies contributed last year to the Republican Governors Association, which largely funded Holcomb’s 2016 campaign.
The flights gave Ratcliff and his business partners exclusive access to Holcomb, who will have final say over their plans to move two Gary casinos to more lucrative locations. Spectacle Entertainment owns the Gary casinos.
Holcomb’s campaign treasurer called the flights “perfectly legal and customary.”
The news came after state lawmakers significantly amended a major gambling bill on Wednesday, removing language that would have allowed mobile sports betting and adding a huge relocation fee for the owner of Gary’s casinos, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
The Indiana House Public Policy Committee approved the amendments authored by committee chairman Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, despite concerns from some representatives.
The changes to Senate Bill 552 included adding a $100 million fee for moving one of the casinos in Gary from Buffington Harbor on Lake Michigan to another part of the city. They also removed a provision that would have allowed horse-track casinos to offer live-dealer table games this year instead of the already approved date of 2021 and eliminated the financial support other communities, associations and casinos would have received if the Gary casinos are moved.


  1. Thanks for catching this quickly, CCO. Great job!

    This does not look good, no matter what your affiliation. Hopefully, this can be investigated quickly, but it concerns me our State AG (another Republican) is under a cloud as well. Considering that both the Senate and House in Indiana are Republican controlled, this could be a major issue for partisan politics to “sweep it under the rug”

  2. Looks like the Indy Star really hammered this issue

    Casino Boss Treated Holcomb To Private Flights With Lucrative Gambling Deal On The Line

    “Experts found the flights particularly concerning because one was never disclosed to the Internal Revenue Service, as required by law, and both appear to be earmarked for Holcomb”

    “Indiana law bans casino license holders from donating directly to Indiana candidates, but does not prohibit contributions to national organizations. Contributions from casino interests to organizations like the RGA have long drawn the ire of government accountability groups, which see them as a way to skirt Indiana’s prohibition on campaign donations from casino interests”

    “The flights, one of which tax records show cost about $20,000, gave Ratcliff and his business partners hours of exclusive access to the governor, who will have final say over their plans to move two Gary casinos to more lucrative locations. One of the flights was just a day before Ratcliff announced plans to acquire those two casinos”

  3. So, was it legal or were laws broken? It happened last year, so has the paper gotten an official opinion from outside Holcomb’s campaign? They got a response from the campaign treasurer, so, where’s the opposing response?

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