Make us your home page
Instagram

Expansion puts Seminole Hard Rock Casino in top tier of gaming halls

TAMPA

Forget Vegas. Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa is now the fourth largest casino in the nation, larger than gambling halls that line the iconic strip.

After a recently completed $75 million expansion, the Hard Rock claims a casino floor bigger than five football fields, with more than 5,000 slot machines, 110 table games and 50 poker tables.

Natural light streams in from floor-to-ceiling windows.

"The old days of hide the clock, old-school Vegas mentality doesn't work any more, at least not for us," said Doug Hoppe, vice president of sales and marketing. "The weather in Florida is gorgeous. Why hide that?"

The expansion includes a non-smoking slot machine room, more parking and the Rise Kitchen & Bakery.

The casino is decked out with new memorabilia from the Hard Rock International Collection, Hoppe said. Signed guitars from Hootie & the Blowfish and Sugar Ray adorn one wall. Visitors who ride the moving walkway from the new Winner's Way Parking Garage pass generations of music, including quotes from Eric Clapton and Lady Gaga and a mauve shirt Neil Diamond wore on tour in 1979.

It's still too early to know which new machines have become crowd favorites, Hoppe said, but the largest reported single payout in Seminole gaming history occurred Friday when a visitor won $3,649,611 on Millionaire Sevens, a new machine added during the expansion. The winner's name was not released.

"I like having more of the new penny machines," said Jeff Cortese, 40, of Orange City, who visits the casino every couple months. "Sometimes it gets really crowded on the weekends, so the extra space was definitely necessary."

The casino has seen a noticeable increase in visitors, Hoppe said. On average, the casino has about 20,000 visitors, with 30,000 coming through on bigger days, such as Memorial Day weekend.

"A lot of casinos in Vegas on a Friday night would be happy to have the kind of vibe and business we have now on a Monday afternoon," Hoppe said.

The casino hired 400 new workers to help with the new territory, raising the employee count to 3,300.

Bartender Lindsay Oij, 21, a December hire who now works at the new poolside bar, said the guest feedback has been great.

"It's been getting busier and busier," she said. "People especially seem to like the non-smoking room."

The room has about 70 slot machines and is insulated from the smoky haze of cigarettes and cigars that permeates the main floor.

"I usually don't like to come because of the smoke," said Ivette Wilger, 68, of Inverness, as she played a slot machine called Zeus. "I wish this room was bigger. Hopefully, the more people that come, they'll expand it."

Wilger has visited the casino about every couple of months since it first opened. Back then, she said she could play for hours and not hear a single bell indicating a big win.

"No one was winning, and I thought, 'What a waste,' " she said. "But now, there's so much to do. Even if you don't win, you're fully entertained."

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at cjohnston@tampabay.com or 813-225-3111.

Expansion puts Seminole Hard Rock Casino in top tier of gaming halls 07/02/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 12:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater-based USAmeriBanc acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal

    Banking

    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.
[KATHLEEN FLYNN l Times]
  2. Outback Steakhouse sees growth in U.S. and Brazil markets in second quarter

    Retail

    TAMPA — Restaurant sales were up at Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill during the second quarter of 2017, but Bonefish Grill continues to lag at Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands.

    The Outback Steakhouse, on 4088 Park St. N, is showin on July 26, 2017. Restaurant sales were up at Outback Steakhouse  and Carrabba's Italian Grill during the second quarter of 2017, but Bonefish Grill continues to lag at Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. Controversial landfill site could be rechristened as industrial recruiting land in Pasco

    Economic Development

    The east Pasco property of Angelo's Aggregate Materials, which failed to obtain a state environmental permit to be developed as a garbage landfill, is being studied as a potential 1,000-acre mega site for industrial recruitment.

  4. Marriott opening new hotel on Clearwater Beach

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER BEACH — A dual-branded Marriott hotel with a tongue-twister name is opening on Clearwater Beach in August. The Residence Inn Tampa Clearwater Beach and SpringHill Suites Tampa Clearwater Beach will have 255 suites total, connected by a lobby.

    A dual-branded Marriott hotel called the Residence Inn Tampa Clearwater Beach and SpringHill Suites Tampa Clearwater Beach will open in August in Clearwater Beach. Pictured is a rendering.
[Courtesy of Hayworth PR]
  5. Irish 31 brings flair, flavor to Wiregrass

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Irish 31 Pub House & Eatery opened its fifth location at The Shops at Wiregrass earlier this month.

    hillsevbiz072117: Irish 31 has opened at the Shops at Wiregrass with a warm, wood decor. Photo courtesy of Irish 31.