RIVERSIDE – With a traditional roll of the dice at the craps table, Riverside Casino & Golf Resort opened for business Thursday.
At 4:15 p.m., casino CEO Dan Kehl kissed a pair of red dice three times and threw a nine as about 15 people around him cheered.
Two years to the day after Washington County voters approved a gambling referendum, and after 13 months of still-to-be-finished construction, the $140 million casino resort was ready for gamblers.
“What a great night this is,” Kehl said.
Gaming began at 5:30 p.m. for several hundred investors and invited guests, after a 30-minute opening ceremony that Kehl closed with a toast.
“May the work that you do be the play that you love,” he said.
The 58,000 square feet of gaming space opened to the public at 9 p.m. At 8:45, there was a line four people wide and 200 yards long outside the front door.
At the front was Dan Burkle, 51, of Des Moines, who said he arrived at 7 p.m. “I thought it would be a fun weekend to come over and do a little gambling and check out the other tourist attractions,” he said.
Inside, people marveled at the casino, several water features, four restaurants and the overall appearance.
The casino has 1,181 slot machines, 30 table games and a 14-table poker room. The resort includes a 200-room hotel, an events center with seating for more than 900, the restaurants and a spa. An 18-hole golf course opens next summer.
“It’s classy,” said DeAnn Wilford, 39, of Cedar Rapids. “I feel like you should be dressed up to be in here.”