Gamblers streamed into a new $50 million on-shore casino in Evansville as it opened to replace the riverboat it had occupied since first opening in 1995.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday marked the debut of the new Tropicana Evansville casino across the street from the old riverboat’s dock along the Ohio River.
Tropicana Entertainment CEO Tony Rodio says the new casino’s restaurants and lounge are critical to diversifying entertainment options and offering more than just slot machines and table games.
Patricia Eatman came to play and says she’s excited about the new venue.
“The riverboat t seemed smaller,” Eatman says. “I think there was three floors on there and this is just so spacious and you feel more comfortable and it’s really nice.”
Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch was in attendance and says she sees this as the future of gaming in Indiana.
“I think this is the beginning of an ongoing movement to take casinos from the riverboat to land based,” Crouch says. “And that is what will make us competitive with our neighboring states.”
The casino was able to move land based after the 2015 Indiana Legislature passed a bill allowing the change in the state’s gaming industry.
A new owner is expected to soon move the riverboat. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke hopes the restored LST 325 World War II troop landing ship based in the city moves to that dock within a year.
Samantha Horton contributed to this report.