MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KPLR) –One era ended and another began this morning in Maryland Heights. Harrah`s was officially sold to a new owner and the casino was renamed. After a short ceremony, the casino which had been Harrah`s for 15 years reopened under its new name, Hollywood Casino St. Louis.
Judith Finney from Chesterfield was the first person to walk the red carpet into the newly renamed and updated casino.
"It's great. I didn`t get any pushing or shoving and I could get my machine and it was great," said Finney.
The casino was closed for about half an hour while workers completed the switchover.
A crowd formed as people waited to get back in. When the casino reopened a little after 9am, there were hundreds of new slot machines with more still to come. A total of 435 new slot machines are being added.
"I think it`s going to be excellent to be honest with you,' said gambler Charles Ricketts.
Rose hicks from University City added, 'I`m looking forward to it. And I think we`re going to enjoy it."
Penn National Gaming, Incorporated bought the property for more than $600 million.
They`re planning $61 million in renovations. A lot of that is for the new slots but there are more plans.
"Over the next six to nine months, new carpeting throughout the casino floor, a lot of AV, projection videos and things of that nature. We're spending millions on the bars inside the casino floor. We`ll be adding boogie nights and replacing the voodoo lounge so there`ll be a nightclub," said General Manager Tony Carlucci.
Penn National is keeping basically all of the 1,250 Harrah's employees and bringing in some additional workers. Everybody is hoping for a bright future at the new Hollywood Casino.
"I think it`s great. I just want to win!" said gambler Laura Lawrence.
Maryland Height's mayor, Mike Moeller, says this year the casino is bringing in up to $13 million in tax revenue to the city this year.
Penn National also owns the Argosy Casino in Alton. Hollywood Casino will match any balance that customers have on their Harrah`s St. Louis Reward Cards. Customers have until January 31, 2013 to redeem any Harrah`s St. Louis casino chips.