ELIZABETH, Ind. (WDRB) -- Horseshoe Southern Indiana is making the move to dry land.
A total of $85 million will be used to build a new casino on dry land a short distance from where the casino currently sits on a boat on the Ohio River.
Leaders from Caesars Entertainment, the Indiana Gaming Commission and Floyd and Harrison County marked the start of the project on Wednesday morning with a groundbreaking
Horseshoe's parent company Caesars Entertainment jumped at the chance to move to dry land after Indiana changed law. Previous betting had to be on the water.
"I think that for our guests to come in and have a connected gaming experience where you can see from one part of the casino to the other and have dining and entertainment right there all integrated will provide a great experience," said Brad Seigel, vice president and general manager for Horseshoe Southern Indiana.
The 100,000 square-foot expansion is expected to take about a year to build. Once it's completed, officials say there will be a Las Vegas-style casino in Southern Indiana. Renderings show a new gaming floor that starts in what's currently the Horseshoe lobby area as well as redesigned restaurants and event spaces.
"I think it's one thing they need real bad because the walk from the garage to here (casino boat) is too long, especially for us old people," said casino guest Vivian Bisinger.
Less talked about is a deal perhaps still in the works. Caesars leadership indicated they wouldn't gamble on a Southern Indiana expansion unless the state gaming commission folded on a $50 million dollar licensing fee the company faced for taking over a Hoosier Park in Anderson.
Neither Indiana gaming officials nor Horseshoe leadership would confirm to WDRB on whether a deal had been reached.
"All these issues will be addressed at our business meeting later this month," Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Tait said.
Horseshoe's selling the expansion as a "win" in many ways. More customers means more money for scholarships and community projects through its foundation.
But it would also put more traffic on crumbling highway 111, a road currently know for flooding and fatal wrecks.
"I do think this allows us a degree of shelter from it and certainly everything will be up and high and hopefully out of mother nature's way," Seigel said.
There's no word yet on exactly what happens to the boat after the casino opens.
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