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Expect the Spectacular from the New Horseshoe Casino

14 February 2007

The new Horseshoe Casino, which is currently under construction and slated for opening in the summer of 2008, will be in sheer scope and size the closest thing to a Las Vegas-style land-based casino experience Greater Chicago area gamblers have ever seen.

The Thrifty Gambler had an opportunity to chat with Rick Mazer, senior vice-president and general manager of the Horseshoe, to get a little insight into what we can expect when the $485-million project is completed about a year and a half from now.

The Thrifty Gambler: What impact will the new casino have on the existing market?

Rick Mazer: Our example was demonstrated in Atlantic City where there was a lot of similar product over a period of time, with some basic differentiation, until Borgata came along. Borgata really changed the scope of the business in Atlantic City and it caused a lot of companies to look at their product and go back and make a number of changes. We fully believe that we are going to grow the market dramatically.

TG: Can a similar dynamic take place here in light of this not being a vacation destination market?

RM: We know from a number of different conversations that we've had with people that there's a whole segment of customer that just does not like the riverboat feel and as such they don't go to them. We believe this a product that finally addresses that issue and, because of it, we feel we'll be able to grow the business with customers that aren't going anywhere now. We hope to be the ground-setting precedent that will change the experience for the customer.

TG: The only component that's lacking right now is a hotel facility on property.

RM: In our master plan we have hopes for a hotel tower. It was something I didn't want to consider at this time because of the amount of disruption that it would cause. We're looking at putting a hotel where the old garage is. Once this new vessel is in place, access to it will be right off the new garage. Access to the pavilion will still exist through the casino or through the walkway. By phasing it we don't impact the customer at all. Hopefully when it's up and running we'll be able to look at the hotel.

TG: You make reference to the new facility as a vessel.

RM: It is being constructed as a vessel (in keeping with Indiana State regulations) with an investment of millions in engines, but we will not ask it to be certified by the United States Coast Guard. Therefore it will be against the law for us to move it even though it will have the capability to move. We'll maintain it as if we sail it every day.

TG: Will a poker room be part of the new gaming experience?

RM: Yes. The poker room right now sits at about 36 tables and will resemble something similar to what you see at the Bellagio or Wynn (Las Vegas). There will be a very classic feel and look as it applies to a poker room. It certainly is a perfect marriage with the World Series of Poker.

TG: What are some of the other highlights?

RM: The second level of the vessel will have a 650-seat buffet in addition to a showroom, which will seat 2,500 in a theater configuration, 3,000 for boxing and up to 4,000 for House of Blues style entertainment. The lower level will be primarily gaming but the increased space will allow us to go from the 2,000 slot machines we have now to 3,200 and our table games from the current 55 to 95 plus the poker room. We will continue to work on the actual mix of games on the floor, but I anticipate us expanding all the different areas of our product.

CASINO NEWS: The Majestic Star Casinos in Gary are an entertainment hot spot on the Chicago-area gaming scene with entertainment on the newly remodeled Lakeshore Lounge in the pavilion on weekend evenings, karaoke every Wednesday from 9pm - Midnight, and "open mike" night every Thursday from 9pm - Midnight hosted by Chicago land favorite Uncle Rail. Disc jockeys entertain daily on the Star Stage located on the second level of the Majestic Star and Thursday - Sunday on the Spotlight Stage on the lower level of Majestic Star II.

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