The Indiana Supreme Court is likely to end former casino executive Gary’s legal career

A former casino executive and attorney who helped clear a variety of legal jungles to form what is now Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana will likely never practice law in Hoosier State again.

The Indiana Supreme Court recently suspended John Keeler’s license to practice law for at least 545 days, or approximately 18 months, after Keeler turned 18 on a political action committee of the Marion County Republican Party.

The suspension occurred without automatic reinstatement. As a result, the only way for Keeler, 73, to regain his attorney’s license after the suspension period is to present clear and compelling evidence of his remorse, rehabilitation and fitness to practice law to the state Supreme Court.

Hard Rock Casino President Matt Schuffert gives Times reporter Dan Carden a tour of the new Hard Rock Northern Indiana a week before it opens.

Connor Burge, The Times

Keeler is currently serving a two-month sentence at a federal detention center in Montgomery, Alabama. He is scheduled to be released under supervision for a year from December 11.

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Records show that Keeler’s wrongful actions in 2016 took place in connection with his role as Vice President and General Counsel of New Centaur LLC – the then owner of two horse track casinos in suburban Indianapolis.

After selling these properties, Keeler and other Centaur officials formed Spectacle Entertainment to acquire Gary’s Majestic Star Casinos and later develop what is now Hard Rock Casino.

Keeler, a former Republican state representative from Indianapolis, worked diligently to ensure the 2019 General Assembly approved the relocation of Gary’s Casinos from Lake Michigan to a more accessible location off Interstate 80/94 on Burr Street.

He also helped solve nagging ownership issues at the chosen site and made repeated appearances at Gary Zoning and Common Council meetings to pave the way for construction of the $300 million gaming, dining and entertainment destination .

Keeler left Spectacle in 2020 after he and former Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, were indicted on federal campaign finance charges.

Waltz pleaded guilty in April to using straw donors to fund his unsuccessful 2016 Republican congressional primary campaign and lying to FBI agents. According to records, he is being held at the federal correctional facility in Ashland, Kentucky until July 23, 2023.

Hard Rock International, a Seminole Tribe of Florida business corporation, has operated the Hard Rock Casino in Gary since it opened on May 14, 2021.

In August 2021, she assumed ownership of Spectacle’s property after the Indiana Gaming Commission identified other potential wrongdoings involving senior Spectacle officials and several Spectacle shareholders refused to comply with the Commission’s casino owner integrity rules .