Harrah's Casino Moving to Land

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Jared Roberts

MASSAC CO. --  People having been going to Metropolis for a day of gambling on "the boat" for years. However, a new construction project means that boat could soon be history.

State law requires casinos be built on the water, but for facilities like Harrah's Metropolis the land offers a lot of new opportunities. They've decided to make a move, even while keeping their exact plans under wraps for a little longer.
 
The Metropolis riverfront is getting a makeover. Harrah's is leaving its iconic riverboat casino for one on dry land.
 
"It's gonna be a one floor casino," said Vice President and General Manager Brad Hirsch. "So it's got a lot of great benefits associated with it for our customers."
 
Construction and demolition for the new gaming floor started this week. Temporary walls now block off the space that was once home to the hotel's convention center.
 
"We've got a lot of work to do," said Hirsch. "But the team is really excited."
 
Hirsch is thrilled to see the project go from an idea to an actual work site. He believes people will be surprised to see the final product.
 
"Great table games action, a poker room, three bars, a restaurant, a dance floor, an entertainment stage," said Hirsch. 
 
It's the kind of improvements that Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel thinks will draw even more visitors.
 
"It'll be just like a brand new facility to the city of Metropolis," said McDaniel. "Glad that they're going to make that initial investment in keeping it going."
 
Harrah's is one of the largest employers in the county and has 580 employees. The company has also been there to help during some the region's worst disaster.
 
"They've been a big part of our community through all the emergency things we have," said McDaniel. "The tornadoes, the floods, the ice storms."
 
However, the facility had to deal with its own flood damage in 2011. They've also had a revenue drop during the recession. The portion of funds that goes to the city has never bounced back.
 
"It's just about stabilized but it's still down 40% to 45% than what it was," said McDaniel.
 
McDaniel is hopeful that this project to make the casino more accessible and more open could bring a big boost.
 
"I think it will be easier for the patrons to participate," said McDaniel. 
 
There's no word yet when the new gaming floor will be finished. The riverboat casino remains open.
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