Diamond Jo Casino: Off the river - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Diamond Jo Casino: Off the river

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The Diamond Jo riverboat casino in Dubuque is closed for the next several days as crews hurry to finish last minute preparations on the new $84-million casino set to open later this week. The river boat casino closed its doors to the public on Sunday morning at two. For many, it's bittersweet; combining the end of an era with the promise of a bigger, better, new casino.

"We went out with a bang. We had champagne at midnight. There were some tears. People were sad, but I think what outweighed that even more was the anticipation of our new facility," General Manager Todd Moyer said.

The celebration was quickly followed by moving. Right after close, technicians started unplugging and moving computers and gaming equipment.

"It's hectic, but also exciting. I just can't wait to see all the people coming through and see how they enjoy it," longtime employee Melissa Davis said.

Some employees have been with the Diamond Jo since it opened in 1994 -- then on a smaller boat -- before moving to the larger riverboat in 1995.

"It's going to be sad because I used to cruise on that and it's just got good memories about it," Davis said.

"We are going to miss the boat. It's just such fun, and the people that have been coming here for so long, they know their way around, they know where everything is, they're comfortable here," Moyer said.

Casino officials say the boat has seen more than 14-million visitors, but the new casino should see many more with elements geared toward families.

"The new property, over 75 percent of it is dedicated to non-commercial amenities, 30 lane bowling center, a bunch of great restaurant, a great buffet, this 800 seat theater. It's going to be dynamite! We just can't wait," Moyer said.

The new Diamond Jo Casino, on land, opens to the public this Thursday night at nine o'clock.

The Diamond Jo is selling the boat, so it will stay in the Port of Dubuque for now. The old portside building was donated to the National Mississippi River Museum and will be used for exhibit space.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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