Players closes, will reopen as Harrah's

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

METROPOLIS, Ill. -- Players Island Casino closed at midnight Tuesday.

Harrah's Metropolis Casino will open at noon today.

A new riverboat casino is in place and everything is go for the new opening, which completes the transition of Players into Harrah's.

"We've been looking forward to the opening of Harrah's Metropolis Casino for many months," said Mike Crider, vice president and general manager of Harrah's Metropolis Casino. "This will be good for our customers. They can enjoy more gaming space, state-of-the-art games and a number of other new amenities."

The transition completes the second phase of the $67 million expansion of the casino in downtown Metropolis, a community of about 7,500 people on the banks of the Ohio River.

The spacious new casino, the North Star, replaces Players II, which will be sold by Harrah's. The new casino vessel will accommodate up to 1,800 passengers, 150 more than the Players II.

The first phase of the transition project opened in mid-August, when the new entertainment complex featuring Harrah's signature restaurants opened. The new complex includes an enclosed, climate-controlled ramp and expanded parking.

The casino operation is one of the top 10 employers in Southern Illinois, currently employing over 900 workers. Crider said employment could go up to 1,100 by the end of the year.

"We're excited about the changes," Crider said. "We expect to see a 20 percent increase in business during our first year."

Players Riverboat Casino was launched by entertainer Merv Griffin in 1993. Included in the land-side complex are a 120-room hotel and a 350-seat theater.

Players, with operations in Metropolis, Louisiana and the St. Louis area, sold its properties to Harrah's Entertainment Corp. in August 1999. The purchased also included a horse-racing track in Paducah, Ky.

Harrah's Entertainment, a $2 billion company based in Las Vegas, is one of the nation's largest gambling companies, with more than 20 U.S. casinos.

rowen@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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