$150 million construction project by Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming that
will bring the nation's newest concept in riverboat gambling to Michigan
City, Indiana, is destined to create a giant footprint in the greater
Northwest Indiana gaming market.
The present Blue
Chip Casino & Hotel gaming vessel, which opened in 1997, is not
unlike any of the other riverboat casinos in the market. The new vessel,
which is scheduled to open sometime during the fourth quarter of this
year, will create a gambling atmosphere that Northwest Indiana casino
goers have never experienced.
Judy Campbell, the
Blue Chip's vice president and general manager, has revealed the new
vessel will be 400 feet long and 200 feet wide as opposed to the 380
feet long and 80 feet wide dimensions of the old vessel.
"It's a much
wider vessel than the one we have today," Campbell noted. "We
conduct business on three different levels on the present boat. With
the new vessel we'll have the ability and the opportunity to open with
one level of gaming. It is designed as a multi-level, certified Coast
Guard vessel, but when we open with gaming on one level we'll still
increase the square footage by over 20,000 square feet. There'll be
room for expansion as business dictates."
Even though the
Blue Chip is being constructed as a riverboat, its size and magnitude
will create a playing environment that guests are going to enjoy. It'll
be the only riverboat casino in Northwest Indiana that will feature
gaming across such a broad single level expanse, which will give it
a land-based Las Vegas feel.
In essence, what
Boyd Gaming is accomplishing with this development is eliminating the
one aspect of riverboat gambling that guests complain about most: Cramped
quarters, low ceilings, poor air quality and the inconvenience of having
to use staircases, escalators and elevators to access gaming areas.
"A lot of this
is about environment," Campbell said. "It's about giving our
customer a comfortable place to play. The ceilings will be as high as
20 feet and there will be plenty of room chair-back to chair-back. There'll
be wide aisles through which people can walk through the casino."
Because of the priority
on comfort that the company is placing on the project, the floor plan
for gaming positions has not yet been finalized.
In addition to the
new gaming vessel, the project also includes a new 950-space parking
garage, which will open in July, as well as some improvements to the
"We are going
to completely enhance and upgrade our Blue Chip Buffet," Campbell
said. "The line will almost triple in size and we'll add 100 seats
to the dining area. We're also going to enhance our fine dining option,
The Grille on Easy Street, by relocating it across the hall from where
it stands today. We'll also increase the seating in the Grille by about
30 and improve the product offering."
The Blue Chip is
unique in the Northwest Indiana gaming market in that it exists in a
traditional resort town. It features a beautiful hotel with first class
amenities on property and has been a welcome addition to the region
and the markets it reaches.
attract customers from a five-state area," revealed Sara Ellis,
the Blue Chip's director of marketing. "The majority of our guests
come from Northwest Indiana and the Michigan area. We exist in a high
tourist area so we do get a lot of visitors from Chicago who come out
here for vacations."
And just in case
you were wondering what will happen to the old Blue Chip Casino gaming
vessel, Ms. Campbell hinted that you may see it "reincarnated".
"We have prepared
a spot for the old vessel behind the new vessel," she said. "It
will be pulled back to an area behind the hotel, just south of where
it is today. We are looking for useful opportunities for it at this
You can keep posted
on the construction progress and other Blue Chip news by logging to
www.bluechip-casino.com or calling 1-888-624-9618 for more information.