Bigger casino rolls out June 29 - Wednesday 17th of June 2009

The owners of one of Indiana’s most successful riverboat casinos are preparing to replace it with a $335 million boat that’s the size of two football fields.

The new Hollywood casino won’t just replace the 13-year-old Argosy casino on the Ohio River when it opens June 29 – it will also raise the stakes in a regional battle for gamblers’ dollars with two other Indiana casinos and a casino that Kentucky lawmakers might soon approve.

Argosy parent Penn National Gaming Inc. said the new casino’s 150,000-square-foot gambling floor will help it defend its turf if Kentucky approves a proposal to expand gambling to help rescue that state’s ailing horse industry.

“The capital we’re deploying today I think will help us … defend our market if and when they get gaming,” said Tony Rodio, Argosy’s general manager.

The casino, less than two miles from a bridge linking Indiana and the Kentucky suburbs just south of Cincinnati, has been under construction for two years.

The boat’s decor evokes the heyday of 1930s Hollywood and will feature live entertainment and a huge, serpentine video screen to show live sports and movie trailers.

Pennsylvania-based Penn National expects to recoup its investment from patrons playing at 3,300 slot machines and 1,100 blackjack and poker tables.

Together, that’s about 1,000 more gaming positions than what’s available on the old boat.

Penn also recently signed a deal to play host to a World Poker Tour event each year.

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