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Hard Rock’s Gary casino eyes spring opening

The Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana is expected to open May 14, 2021. (Rendering courtesy Hard Rock)

It’s been more than a year since members of the Jackson 5 helped celebrate a groundbreaking for the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana. After some delay, Hard Rock officials announced a May 14 opening date.

The $300 million development is located in Gary – the Jackson’s hometown. It’s where brothers Jackie, Tito and Jermaine founded the group in 1965. Younger brothers Marlon and Michael would later join up.

There were concerns by the Indiana Gaming Commission that caused a pause in the casino moving forward regarding one of the casino’s owners whose gaming license had been previously suspended – former Spectacle Entertainment CEO Rod Ratcliff.

However, the situation was recently resolved after Ratcliff agreed to sell his ownership interests and permanently relinquish his gaming license.

The 200,000-square-foot casino, with 1,650 slot machines and 80 table games, and its many amenities – sports book, restaurants, retail and 2,000 capacity Hard Rock Live – are located near the south shore of Lake Michigan, about 25 miles from downtown Chicago at 5400 West 29th Ave.

Hard Rock officials have been in the process of hiring hundreds of new employees to staff the venue.

“It’s hard to put into words how magnificent it’s going to be,” Matt Schuffert, president of the facility, recently told the Northwest Indiana Times. “When you see the facility and the quality of the finishes and the quality of work that is being done, arguably there’s not much competition from that perspective in this market.”

Schuffert is a Gary native who graduated from Indiana University Northwest. He’s also a longtime casino executive in the region.

Hard Rock fans will recognize many of the food offerings – a signature Hard Rock Cafe, Council Oaks steakhouse, YOUYU Noodle Bar, Fresh Harvest Buffet and Constant Grind coffee shop. There also will be a Center Bar at the nexus of the gaming floor and a VIP lounge.

Hard Rock’s signature music memorabilia will be incorporated throughout the casino – plenty of it focused on the Jackson family – whose house at 2300 Jackson Street is about four miles east of the casino.

“I believe the energy that surrounds [the casino] is going to be catalytic to other folks outside of the community, and inside the community, wanting to step up and make … significant investments …,” Gary’s mayor, Jerome Prince, recently told the Northwest Indiana Times.

Schuffert added that Hard Rock would consider in the coming years the addition of a hotel and parking garage that would be connected to the casino.

Meanwhile, about 120 miles northwest of Gary, Hard Rock officials are preparing to open a casino development in Rockford, Illinois.

If approved, the $310 million development would include restaurants and bars, a 1,600-seat entertainment venue, 1,500 slots, 55 tables and a sports book, along with other amenities.

The Seminole Tribe is the parent entity of Hard Rock International. More information is at hardrock.com.

This story and photo caption have been updated to include the opening date of the casino.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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