6,000-ton casino boat afloat - Sunday 12th of June 2005

A new $163 million Blue Chip Casino boat, weighing more than 6,000 tons, should be ready for gamblers by the end of the year.

Crews lifted the boat off the bottom of a man-made channel beside Trail Creek on Sunday. Since then, 3,000 gallons of creek water has been pumped per minute into the basin in Michigan City, 25 miles east of Gary.

The mass of steel should rise to the desired level above the 16-foot-deep bottom by week's end, said Bob Marra, projects director for Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming, which owns the casino boat.

Marra and other officials of Boyd and Blue Chip took visitors inside the new vessel, which is 402 feet by 208 feet, for the first time Wednesday.

Upon completion, the vessel will be four stories, and its square footage will be more than twice that of the existing boat, which opened in 1997, Marra said.

All of the gambling will be on the vessel's third floor. The bottom levels will contain features related to the boat's operation.

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