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All-New Experience Awaits Guests at Empress

15 July 2009

When Empress Casino Joliet returns to action on June 25 for the first time since the March 20 fire that destroyed the pavilion but left the barge undamaged, guests will be greeted by a casino destination that has been totally transformed.

Not only has the casino been refurbished, complete with a 240-seat buffet, new high-limit gaming area, and state-of-the-art VIP lounge, the minute you make the turn into the property you'll notice changes for the better.

"You'll still see the old marquee, but that'll be replaced with a new one as soon as we decide what the new build-out of this property is going to be," said Frank Quigley, vice-president and general manager, who was making reference to plans for the reconstruction of the pavilion.

"There has been significant enhancement to the décor with a brand new landscaped island as you turn in, and all the old time 'dice', 'cards', and 'triple sevens' displays have been replaced with flower beds. There'll be welcoming billboards, an all-new lighting system, and the road will be repaved and re-striped.

"The parking lot has had significant landscaping done to it as well. We'll be under construction with the new pavilion, so there will be a significant presence of signage to direct customers, because that will be different."

Empress guests, who have always enjoyed the convenience of acres of paved outdoor parking, will have the same benefits, only better.

"When you reach the first big lot, you'll make a left turn taking you away from the construction," Quigley revealed. "There is a temporary entrance set up very similar to the old one. Getting into the building will be the same. You'll walk through a covered tent-way that leads to a brand new entrance that takes you right into the casino."

Fast and convenient valet parking will also be available.

Even though the opening is set for 10:30 a.m. on June 25, Quigley chuckled, saying: "You wouldn't know it if you looked at the place right now, but that's typical of a project of this nature. We're working overtime to get it done, and it's going to be magnificent. What we did in less than a few months is amazing."

The new buffet will be located on the lower level in the area that previously housed high-end gaming.

"It really is a beautiful facility," Quigley said. "We were able to utilize a lot of the equipment that was going to be used in the buffet that we were building out on the pavilion before the fire."

There's even a possibility the buffet will remain on the barge once plans for the new pavilion are finalized.

"We're looking at everything right now." Quigley said. "There are several different concepts out there. Some leave the buffet where it's at, some move it back out. We'll see where we end up with that once every one weighs in with their opinions."

The huge 50,000 square feet of gaming space available on the twin-level barge made it possible to develop the buffet and still have room to spare for the placement of the 1,200 gaming positions.

"Were also going to have a dedicated convenient smoking lounge in the high-limit area, and another smoking area that will be ready a couple of weeks after opening on the first floor off the video poker area," Quigley said. "There will be seven or eight smoking areas in all."

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp