ELIZABETH, Ind. (WDRB) -- Hundreds of people streamed into the new, $90 million land-based Caesars Southern Indiana casino on Thursday, saddling up to blackjack tables, slot machines and a Las Vegas-style sports betting theater.
The new facility replaces the Glory of Rome riverboat casino that operated as Horseshoe Southern Indiana for the past two decades.
Indiana lawmakers in 2015 allowed riverboat casinos to move on land.
"That really got us thinking, is there a better way to run a business than on a riverboat?" said Caesars Southern Indiana general manager Brad Seigel.
The 110,000 square-foot complex combines entertainment, dining, shopping and gaming on one floor, whereas the riverboat casino had four floors.
"The riverboat was great for 20 years, but if you are on the fourth level of the riverboat, you might have no idea what's going on on the second. Now you can see from corner to corner," Seigel said.
Indiana legalized sports betting earlier this year. The casino has an area called The Book with wagering windows, kiosks, plush seats, huge TV screens and a large bar. Guests can bet on football, basketball, baseball and other sports.
A dining area called Piazza has five restaurants including pizza, Mexican and Asian foods. There is also a 24-hour restaurant for burgers and other fare along with a home-style restaurant serving foods like fried chicken and barbecue ribs.
Several new bars and lounges are included. Volt Lounge will offer craft cocktails and live entertainment on the weekends. The Juno Bar is in the center of the gaming floor, and the Laurel Lounge and its outdoor balcony is exclusively for Caesars Rewards VIPs.
Tony Rodio, CEO of Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp., said Thursday that the bricks-and-mortar casino should attract even customers who don't gamble.
"There was no way anyone was going to that riverboat and spending an evening if they weren't interested in gambling. You could, I think, have an enjoyable evening here without making a wager," he said.
The casino also includes High Limits gaming with private parlors and a non-smoking gaming area.
Caesars Southern Indiana has also renovated existing meeting and convention spaces to accommodate larger groups.
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