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Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa goes forward with $700 million expansion

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa has embarked on a nearly $700 million expansion. This is a rendering of the planned atrium. [Courtesy of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino]
Published May 31, 2018

TAMPA — Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino officials have plans to make Florida's biggest casino even bigger — and with even more slot machines — through the $700 million expansion plan they announced on Wednesday.

The improved hotel and casino, which will have a new 15-story hotel tower and 200,000 square feet of gaming space, is slated to open in mid-2019.

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The Seminole Tribe says the expansion is part of a $2.4 billion in "economic investment" it previously said it might make into its two flagship casinos — Tampa and Hollywood.

The nearly $700 million plan mirrors one first announced by the hotel in 2016 when the Seminole Tribe encouraged the state to pass a gaming compact, which failed in the Legislature.

A year later, the tribe made a deal with the state to keep operating blackjack tables and other banked card games until 2030.

"That gave the tribe stability for the full-scale expansion," said casino spokesman Gary Bitner. "Though, clearly, the details have evolved."

After the gaming compact legislature failed, the hotel moved forward with a smaller $100 million expansion that opened last year — no hotel remodel, but a mezzanine casino, 500 new slot machines and 15 new tables.

Its latest plan dwarfs those recent renovations.

Seminole Hard Rock says there will be a total of 5,000 slot machines and nearly 200 gaming tables once the new plans are complete.

The tower hotel will offer 564 hotel rooms and suites. That means, in total, the Hard Rock will have about 800 rooms and 88 suites. The top floor of the new hotel will have a private gaming parlor, exclusive check-in and private elevators.

There will be three new "ultra-lavish" outdoor pools, according to the casino. Guests will also be able to dine at a 120-seat pool grill and bar or get pampered at a 25,000-square-foot salon and spa. A 200-seat Italian restaurant is scheduled to open next fall and updates are planned for existing eateries.

"Major expansion of the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa is further evidence of the Seminole Tribe's commitment to the people of Florida that it will continue to increase the economic impact of its Seminole Gaming facilities," Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming, said in a statement.

EARLIER COVERAGE: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino begins vastly scaled-down expansion in Tampa

One of its new additions includes a 30,000-square-foot event center within the casino's second story. It will have a 17,000-square-foot grand ballroom that Bitner said could attract companies and groups hosting trade shows or conventions — as well as large-scale poker tournaments.

There's long-term plans for six new retail shops — right now there's just two. The casino is also adding about 700 new parking spots, bringing the total parking to about 6,000.

The casino estimates there will be close to an added 1,000 part-time and full-time jobs and more than 2,000 construction jobs on-site over the next two years. Already, the casino employes more than 3,500.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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