- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

GARY, Ind. (AP) - The owners of northwestern Indiana’s Majestic Star Casino are moving ahead with plans to replace its aging casino riverboats with a land-based gambling facility now permitted under state law.

Majestic Star general manager Barry Cregan said engineers are searching for “potential sites within our campus footprint” at Gary’s Buffington Harbor for a proposed casino and event center that would cost between $95 million and $135 million.

A state law passed last year allows for operation of a land-based casino on land already owned by the casino contiguous to its dock, The (Munster) Times reported (http://bit.ly/1og6BGZ ).

Majestic Star was one of three Indiana riverboat casinos that lobbied state lawmakers for land-based casinos. The two others were Tropicana Casino in Evansville and Rising Star Casino in Lawrenceburg.

Majestic Star executives argued that moving onshore was necessary to compete with land-based casinos in other states. The company said in its written testimony to the legislature in 2014 that Majestic Star’s two boats are nearing the end of their useful life. Those boats opened in 1996 and 1997.

Those boats had nearly 2 million visitors in fiscal 2015, with $160 million in revenue.

Tropicana Casino has already begun the process of moving onshore in Evansville. It plans to build a $50 million, 75,000 square-foot casino on land between the two hotels it owns along the Ohio River.

Evansville officials agreed to a new lease arrangement with Tropicana early this year, and plans call for construction to be completed in mid-2017.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com

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