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Hollywood Casino breaks ground on new expansion project

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BATON ROUGE - Shovels dig into the future of gaming in Baton Rouge.

The Hollywood Casino is the first in Baton Rouge to take advantage of a law allowing a riverboat operation to move onto land.

"This is the right thing to do. And this is going to benefit the city of Baton Rouge tremendously. It'll benefit the state of Louisiana as far as increase revenue from the tax base. So, more employment. We're excited. It's a great day for Baton Rouge," Ronnie Johns said, Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

A few hundred new jobs will be available for people to not just build the casino, but also work there once renovations are complete.

Come late 2022, the parking lot next to Hollywood Casino will have a whole new facelift. With a starting budget of $60 million, the new casino will feature slots, sports betting and new restaurants.

"We're going to put in a big sports bar. 'Big Chicken," that's Shaquille O'Neal's restaurant, that's going to be in here. That's what most of our guests are asking, they want to see a celebrity start walking around the property. And then, the boat is going to be sold and viking river cruises are going to start coming up," said Aaron Mollura, Vice President of marketing at the Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge.

The law changed about three years ago, and it's taken since 2018 to get everything worked out to move the gaming operation from the riverboat, which state regulators say is a safe move.

"The fact that these riverboats are out on the Mississippi River, Hollywood and the Belle, there's just a lot of safety factors out there. The ships coming in, the barged on the river, a storm. You never know what's going to happen," said Johns.

Hollywood is the second casino project to hop on board, following behind the Isle of Capri in Lake Charles, which has already begun working on its land-based casino.

"They're ahead of the game of what Hollywood is doing here but, they're going to be the very first in the state to take advantage of that legislation," said Johns.

After this ground breaking, construction's supposed to wrap up in about a year.


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