Phase One of the new permanent dockside gaming facility that opened last month in Aurora, Illinois, has created a climate for Chicago-area casino gamblers similar to Harrah’s Joliet but one that will definitely have a personality all its own once Phase Two is completed this summer.
Hollywood Casino Aurora’s multi-million dollar venture into upgrading from a two-vessel riverboat gambling property into a state-of-the-art 53,000-square-foot, single-level casino, is a dramatic transformation. The new property will ultimately be a “horseshoe” shaped design that will include gaming areas that are mirror images of one another, separated in the middle by an improved and expanded Epic Buffet and Legends Lounge.
As is the case with the other eight active casino gambling sites in Illinois, Hollywood Casino is located in a city of significant historical and cultural significance. Just as the Rialto Theater is a treasured landmark in Joliet, so is the Paramount Arts Centre in downtown Aurora revered by the community.
“From the very beginning more than decade ago we have been conscious of maintaining a close relationship to the city of Aurora,” said Hollywood Casino Corporation’s chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer, Edward T. Pratt III. “For example, you’ll notice that the décor of our new casino closely follows the interior design, colors, and lines of our historic neighbor, the Paramount Theatre.
“We also take pride in the fact that this new facility, as well as our original two riverboat casinos, the City of Lights I and the City of Lights II, were constructed entirely using the resources and labor forces of the Aurora area. In fact, the construction site for everything we’ve ever done here is located just three-quarters of a mile down river from the casino.”
Hollywood Casino Aurora is one of three distinctive Hollywood-themed gambling and entertainment properties owned and operated by Hollywood Casino Corporation with headquarters in Dallas, Texas. The other two casinos are located in Tunica, Mississippi, and Shreveport, Louisiana.
“Our goal was to bring a new level of gaming, quality, and overall entertainment experience to the Chicago market,” Pratt said. “We look at Las Vegas as the benchmark of what we wanted to do, and we feel we have accomplished it with the grand opening of the first phase of the project.
“For example, the increased square footage allowed us to create a much more spacious, airy environment. The high ceilings not only make for much cleaner and fresher air quality, but it allowed us to move in high-quality signage that gives a Las Vegas style look and feel to the property.
“This expansion and upgrade makes for true entertainment value for our customers. The single-level construction makes the facility ‘user friendly’. There are no stairs to climb, no maze of small gaming areas to get lost in, just one big all-encompassing area with great sight lines and pleasing atmosphere.”
Hollywood Casino Corporation owns and manages one of the world’s largest collections of memorabilia and artifacts from the movie industry and from the stars of the silver screen themselves. The display cases inside the company’s three casino and pavilion areas bring a museum quality experience to the properties that make it unique in the gaming industry.
“Representatives from our company at times purchase props from movie studios even before the movies are released,” Pratt revealed. “They are also active in auctions and estate sales. We are constantly looking to improve the collection and create new points of interest. For example, we contracted with Paramount Studios to design our Shreveport property. In Tunica, our collection is of such interest that we had to print a pocket map so that visitors could more easily locate the different displays.”
The new Hollywood Casino has created a new aura of elegance to the property. Gone is the predominant blue motif and glitz. It has been replaced with soft brown tones and wood paneling. Even the cocktail waitresses and dealers sport new uniforms.
A highlight of the grand opening of the second phase of the project in June will include a new buffet that will feature cuisine stations and exhibition cooking.