River City Casino

Lemay opens its doors to gambling

(click for larger version)
03/05/2010 - With all the glitz and glamour expected of a Nevada-based casino operator, Pinnacle Entertainment on March 1 opened the doors for the first time to its new, $380 million River City Casino.

Between 400-500 VIPs, along with members of the media, enjoyed free food and drink at Monday's "sneak peek" prior to River City's grand opening at 2 p.m. on March 4. Later that day, about 4,000 to 5,000 gamers — special guests in Pinnacle's data base from this country and around the world — were invited to gamble.

Monday's VIPs were welcomed by the sight of a beautiful blonde's long, flowing red dress as it extended along the floor to create a "red carpet" into the Grand Court. The expansive court has a 42-foot-high skylight and two 25-foot high crystal beaded chandeliers.

River City Casino held a “sneak peek” Monday morning for VIPs and the media. The casino floor has 55 table games and more than 2,000 slots. photos by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
Todd George, regional vice president and manager of River City, welcomed the crowd with his opening remarks. Also at the podium that morning were St. Louis County Executive Charles Dooley, St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger, State Rep. Patricia Yaeger of Lemay, and U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan.

The talk was all about jobs and future economic growth for the area.

"We are looking forward to an economic boom," said Carnahan. "Jobs, jobs, jobs," shouted an enthusiastic Dooley. "This is a game changer," declared Stenger. "This is the beginning of great things for Lemay and all of South County," Yaeger predicted.

For River City supporters, and they were all supporters at Monday's affair, the new casino complex means that a former contaminated lead site has been cleansed, 600 union construction jobs were created in its construction, and about 1,200 people now have permanent River City jobs.

Visitors to the casino were greeted enthusiastically at the door by employees. In addition to the gaming floor, River City Casino includes a number of restaurants and bars. (click for larger version)
George expects River City, Pinnacle's third casino in the St. Louis area, to generate about $17 million a month in gambling revenue. The $380-million River City Casino will be followed by a second phase, to include construction of a hotel.

What Visitors Will See

Entering River City from the west along the new public 1.5-mile River City Boulevard (a $23.8 million investment by Pinnacle), visitors may first marvel at the sheer enormity of this "gaming city."

BarCentral is located in the heart of the casino. Bar-top slots and seating for 40 make this a “social centerpiece.” (click for larger version)
The 250,000-square-foot project sits on 56 acres, or about 42 football fields, including end zones. There is parking for 3,000 vehicles.

The design approach of both the building's interior and exterior are described as "New Age authentic" — reflective of an overall look of a Missouri riverboat town. Red and gold are the dominant colors throughout the expansive casino. The exterior is built of varying colors of brick and stone.

Monday's highlight came when a large curtain behind the speakers' podium was raised, allowing visitors the first public view, and access to, the single-level casino floor.

This elaborate red dress extended along the floor, creating a red carpet for visitors into the Grand Ballroom. (click for larger version)
At 90,000-square-feet, the floor has more than twice the space of the White House. The casino is equipped with 2,000 slots and 55 table games — matching the numbers offered at Pinnacle's Lumière Place in downtown St. Louis.

At the center of the casino floor is BarCentral, a 40-seat "social centerpiece" where gamblers, over a drink, are free to celebrate their winnings or grouse over their losses. They can also continue gambling, as BarCentral features slots built into the bar.

At 90,000 square feet, the casino floor at River City Casino has twice the space of the White House. photos by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
River City includes a number of restaurants and bars, among them Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse and a 350-seat buffet known as The Great Food Exposition. Lewy Nine's Café is a twist on the familiar, old diner of the 1950s. There is also a Burger Brothers and a Peet's Coffee and Tea house.

VIPs were treated to a live band performing rock and pop favorites from the stage of Judy's Velvet Lounge. The 75-seat venue will serve as the hub of River City's nightlife. With its 60-foot long bar, 1904 Beerhouse is a tribute to Western Europe's classic beer halls.

River City is now the seventh casino in the St. Louis area, and the third to be owned by Pinnacle. It is located in Lemay just south of the mouth of the River Des Peres. The new River City Boulevard creates a new east-west link between Interstate 55 and South Broadway.

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