CASINO PLAN FLOATS INTO PLACE - Tuesday 19th of June 2007

Workers are seaming together pieces of a new Horseshoe casino platform, after the last two of six modules were floated into the Hammond Marina.

The completed platform will be 320 feet by 564 feet, nearly as big as two football fields and six times the size of the existing riverboat casino.

Structural steel to form the skeleton of the new casino will be applied starting in August, Horseshoe spokesperson Shelby Curry said.

Details of the interior design are being finalized, Curry said.

"We want to make sure this product is like nothing Northwest Indiana and the Midwest have ever seen," Curry said.

The new, two-level facility will house a 108,000-square-foot gambling floor with room for double the number of slot machines and table games on the existing riverboat, in surroundings resembling more a floating convention hall than a water-bound vessel.

An entertainment center with seating for 3,000 will occupy the upper level. The casino is being rebuilt by parent Harrahs Entertainment Inc. at a cost of $485 million.

The six modules were built during the winter at shipyards in Texas, Louisiana and southern Indiana and began arriving in April.

The project is on target for a summer 2008 opening, Curry said.

Shareholders of Harrahs Entertainment Inc. have approved a $17.1 billion buyout of the company by private equity firms Apollo Management Group of New York City and Texas Pacific Group, based in Fort Worth, Texas.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval by gaming officials in Indiana and other states where Harrahs Entertainment Inc. operates casinos.

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