Harrah's, Players Plan Spring '98 Launch of Riverboat in Mo.

Reed Travel Features

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- Harrah's Entertainment and Players International are planning to bring the Las Vegas experience to the Midwest with the opening of Riverport Casino Center here in the spring of 1998.

The joint-venture project, currently under construction on the southeast bank of the Missouri River in the Riverport area of Maryland Heights, is a $286 million development that will rank as one of the nation's largest riverboat casinos.

Pending licensing approval from the Missouri Gaming Commission, the 470,000-square-foot facility will debut in March with four casinos; a wide array of dining venues; entertainment offerings and retail outlets, and a 291-room hotel.

Located 20 minutes by car from downtown St. Louis, Riverport Casino Center will feature a Las Vegas-style exterior theme, with bright lights, gaming icons and dynamic colors.

Guests will enter the facility through a dramatic porte cochere leading into the complex's 350,000-square-foot, land- based pavilion.

The interior of the land-based portion of the complex will resemble a turn-of-the-century Missouri riverboat town, with an elaborate wharf and shopfront facade, while the four riverboat casinos will carry their own distinctive themes, which still are being developed.

Harrah's and Players each will operate one riverboat, each containing two casinos.

Because the gaming facilities will be divided between two riverboats, boarding times will be staggered so guests will not have to wait to enter.

Together, the four gaming facilities will offer a variety of slot machines and table games within roughly 120,000 square feet of casino space -- more than any other riverboat gaming operation in the Midwest, according to the property.

More than 3,000 gaming positions are planned for the complex, a 53% increase in the current number available in the metropolitan area.

The land-based pavilion will house restaurants, entertainment facilities, shops and a child-care center.

Dining venues will include a Las Vegas-style buffet, which officials claim will be the largest in the region; a casual entertainment lounge offering sandwiches and burgers, and two specialty restaurants, the Plantation and the Range.

Players Island will operate the Plantation, which will specialize in steaks, seafood and Italian dishes.

Harrah's will operate the Range, which will feature steaks.

Delicatessens also will be located in each of the four casinos.

The pavilion will feature a 10,000-square-foot special-

events center that will serve as Riverport Casino Center's entertainment venue, in addition to the entertainment lounge.

The center also will be made available for corporate meetings, conventions and other group functions.

The pavilion will contain a variety of retail outlets, which will be managed by Players and showcase Harrah's and Players apparel, gifts, specialty candy and other merchandise.

Riverport Casino Center also will be the first gaming operation in the area to offer child-care facilities.

The complex will feature Planet-4-Kidz, a 10,000-square-foot supervised child-care center designed to serve infants to preteens.

Planet-4-Kidz, an industry leader in child-care entertainment, operates facilities at Harrah's Vicksburg and Tunica, Miss., properties.

Harrah's will manage the special-events center, entertainment lounge and buffet restaurant in addition to the eight-story hotel.

Harrah's Hotel will feature 14 suites and 277 upscale guest rooms as well as meeting rooms and exercise facilities.

The complex also will offer an 1,850-space parking garage in addition to 3,000 surface parking spaces.

Riverport Casino Center will employ approximately 3,000 people and is expected to draw about 6 to 8 million guests per year.

The economic impact of the development is projected to be $40 million per year for the state of Missouri and $10 million per year for the city of Maryland Heights.

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