More than two and a half years after the slots license was awarded, a year after the majority ownership changed hands, plus a name change, the Rivers Casino opens at noon today on Pittsburgh's North Shore.
In December 2006, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted to award Pittsburgh's slots license to Detroit businessman Don Barden to build the Majestic Star Casino. Barden ran into financing troubles and last summer the gaming board agreed to accept Neil Bluhm's Walnut Street Capital group as the lead owner with High Pitt Gaming as an investor. Don Barden retains a small stake in the casino. The name was then changed from Majestic Star to Rivers Casino.
After test runs Wednesday and Friday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board gave final approval for the casino to open to the public today. Rivers Casino President Ed Fasulo says they expect to generate more revenue than any current casino in Pennsylvania..."We will start with 3,000 slots machines, that includes all the virtual games, virtual roulette, virtual 21, etc., 3,000 total. After six months, we can request from the Gaming Board to expand that number."
Board spokesman Doug Harbach says they expect the Rivers Casino to generate about $425 million a year but that's not expected to take away from the Meadows Casino which opened 2 years ago..."You see a totally different facility at the Meadows with different amenities that players are looking for to spend their entertainment dollars. You'll see different things in Pittsburgh....a different crowd of people and how they want to spend their entertainment dollars."
Members of anti-gambling group No Dice are expected to protest outside the casino.