Demolition Begins on Empress Casino

Crews began demolishing the burned-out shell of the Empress Casino on Thursday.

Parts of the Egyptian-themed casino in Joliet were destroyed in a massive fire March 20.

Remnants of the destroyed pavilion area are being cleared out for construction of a new pavilion, set to open in 2010, CBS2 reported.

The gambling area itself is located on a barge on the Des Plaines River, and was not seriously damaged. It is expected to open for gambling by the end of June.

The Joliet Fire Department estimated that the massive fire, sparked by a construction worker, did about $340 million worth of damage to the complex.

The casino is paying its workers while the casino is closed. In turn, many of them have donated their time to charities in the area.

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