Empress Casino to Reopen June 25

Fire destroyed portions of complex March 20

By BJ Lutz
|  Thursday, May 28, 2009  |  Updated 2:45 PM CDT
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Sky5 is over the scene of an extra-alarm fire at Empress Casino in <a title=Joliet." />

Sky5 is over the scene of an extra-alarm fire at Empress Casino in Joliet.

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Less than three months after a fire destroyed the entertainment pavilion at the Empress Casino Hotel in Joliet, the property is planning to re-open its casino barge on June 25.

"It may be the same casino, but our guests won’t recognize the place," said the casino's vice-president and general manager, Frank Quigley.

The two-deck casino barge has been completely remodeled and new gaming amenities added, according to a release.

Using previously unoccupied space on the lower level of the casino, the casino will introduce a new and expanded high-limit gaming area with slots and tables and a new VIP players lounge that offers guests the opportunity to relax and enjoy food and drinks in the sophisticated ambiance of a private club, the release said.

Portions of the casino were "written off" during the March 20th fire that consumed portions of the complex, which caused about $340 million worth of damage and significantly affected the local and state economies.

Penn National Gaming Inc., owner of the Empress, agreed to extend full pay and benefits to all 850 employees for 90 days.

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