Former Indiana Lawmaker to Plead to Casino Scheme Conspiracy Charges
On November 28, 2023, former state Rep. Sean Eberhart is set to plead guilty to conspiracy charges at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis, as reported by Indy Star. Eberhart, who served as a General Assembly official from 2007 to 2022, is facing allegations of influencing a gaming bill beneficial for casino operator Spectacle Entertainment in exchange for a $350,000 business engagement.
The allegations against Eberhart continue the pattern of connections between Spectacle and the state legislature, which have already resulted in prison sentences for other lawmakers. Two other lawmakers pleaded guilty to corruption charges related to their involvement with Spectacle’s predecessor New Centaur LLC.
Former Republican representative Sean Eberhart is being prosecuted for his alleged involvement in the 2019 casino license application made by Spectacle before the Indiana Gaming Commission for two casinos in downtown Gary and Terre Haute. Eberhart allegedly played a key role in helping the operator to have the necessary bill passed in the General Assembly and in reducing the transfer fee for Spectacle’s two casinos from $100 million to $20 million.
The allegations are part of a long history of illegal activities involving Spectacle’s predecessor, New Centaur LLC. After selling Centaur to Caesars Entertainment in 2018, the company’s founder and CEO, Rod Ratcliff, started Spectacle Entertainment. This company allegedly engaged Eberhart in 2019 negotiations with the General Assembly that led to a May 2019 law and ultimately resulted in Eberhart’s prosecution.
Other cases involving Centaur resulted in indictment against former state Sen. Brent Waltz and state representative John Keeler, who were charged with funneling over $40,000 from the company to their political campaign in 2015. Ratcliff has never been charged with any crimes, but Waltz and Keeler pleaded guilty and served time for tax fraud arising from the company’s 2016 tax return.
The controversial cases, including private jet flights arranged for politicians and lucrative legal contracts for House representatives, have reportedly resulted in resignations and retirements of some state officials. Despite the Indiana Inspector General reportedly finding no violations in these activities, they have continued to cast a cloud over the dealings involving Centaur and Spectacle.
Sean Eberhart will reportedly now plead on conspiracy charges regarding his alleged role in passing the 2019 bill that favored the Spectacle casino operator and its controversial founder and CEO, Rod Ratcliff.