Ratcliff hasn’t been charged in the federal case and he denies any wrongdoing. Ratcliff resigned as Indianapolis-based Spectacle’s CEO over the summer after he and Keeler gave up their ownership in the company’s planned $125 million casino in Terre Haute to business partner Greg Gibson.
Ratcliff’s lawsuit maintains that state regulators have interfered with his efforts to sell his 22% share of Spectacle and were trying to force him to take a “fire-sale price” from Hard Rock.
The state gaming commission declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday. It said construction was being allowed to continue on the new casino, but that an order prohibiting the transfer of gambling machines from the current Majestic Star casino remained in place.
Hard Rock Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas said in a statement that the company was working with the state commission and remained committed to completing the new Gary casino project.
Ratcliff and Keeler, a lawyer who was a Republican legislator for 16 years in the 1980s and 90s, have lobbied the Indiana Legislature for many years on casino matters. They pushed lawmakers in 2019 to allow the Gary casino’s move from along Lake Michigan to a more lucrative location next to Interstate 80/94 in Gary. In 2019, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb faced a state ethics review of his dealings with Ratcliff.