|By Michael Sasso, Tampa Tribune,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sept. 01, 2011--TAMPA -- Even more slot machines and table games are on the way at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which shows no signs of slowing down with the economy.
The casino on Wednesday shared a few details and artist renderings of its $75 million expansion. Plans include adding 32,000 square feet of gaming space, which should make the Seminole Hard Rock one of the nation's biggest casinos by square footage.
It also will add a five-story parking garage with more than 1,300 spaces. Visitors will step onto a moving walkway, similar to those found in airports, to speed up the long hike.
Finally, the casino is planning a new restaurant and will add tropical landscaping to its pool area. The expansion is scheduled to be finished early next year.
The expanded gambling floor promises to be the Seminole Tribe's big moneymaker. All told, the casino will have 220,000 square feet of gaming space after the project -- the size of a Walmart Supercenter. It is adding 750 slots, which will bring the total to 4,926, and 12 table games, which will amount to 105 table games after the expansion.
John Fontana, president of the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa, said the expansion will let the casino stay in front of demand. Unlike other industries, business at the casino hasn't seen any downturn.
"Our market seems to be staying strong throughout," Fontana said.
The Tribe's gaming compact with Florida requires it begin sharing gambling revenues with the state next July, a spokeswoman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation said in August.
Finding a reliable list of the biggest U.S. casinos is tough, but gambling websites and rankings suggest three may have bigger casino floors: the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos in Connecticut and the newly expanded WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma.
All three are Native American casinos and all three have more than 300,000 square feet of gaming space.
The Seminole Hard Rock expects to hire 430 people in permanent jobs tied to the expansion, and the project should create 500 temporary construction jobs. The casino plans to hold a job fair in the spring and post information about available jobs early next year on www.gotoworkhappy.com, a website run by Seminole Gaming.
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