Indiana casino expanding to fend off competition

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Leaders of a southeastern Indiana casino are banking on a new $49 million convention center and hotel complex to help it compete with a casino being built in nearby Cincinnati.

Government and business leaders took part in a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday in downtown Lawrenceburg for the Hollywood Casino project. The new complex is expected to open in summer 2013 with a concert hall and exhibition space, a 180-room hotel and a 150-seat restaurant and bar.

"This becomes part of our offense and defense relative to the competition that's coming," Joe Hasson, Hollywood Casino's general manager, told The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Horseshoe casino in Cincinnati is scheduled to open in spring 2013, posing greater competition to the Lawrenceburg casino and two other Indiana casinos along the Ohio River near Cincinnati — Rising Star Casino at Rising Sun and Belterra Casino near Vevay.

The Lawrenceburg casino in 2009 moved into a new $336 million boat that more than doubled the size of the one it had since opened in 1995.

Hasson said the casino's current 300-room hotel is typically 90-percent full.

The city is financing most of the project, with a $25 million grant, a $14 million loan to Hollywood and $10 million from a special taxing district. The casino will assume both ownership and management of the complex once it is completed.

"This is to offset what we hope is not a great loss in revenue," Mayor William Cunningham told WXIX-TV. "So the combination of the city working with the casino is definitely the right mix, and the only way it would work."


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