Penn National said it’s unable to say when the Empress Casino in Joliet will re-open following a fire during a renovation construction

Penn National Gaming reported that its Empress Casino in Joliet, Illinois has been temporarily closed following a fire that started earlier Friday morning in the land-based pavilion at the facility that includes the employee offices. The fire began in an area of the property that was undergoing construction as part of a $50 million renovation at the property, which included upgrades to certain food and beverage offerings, and was contained on the land-side of the property before it could spread to the adjacent casino barge.

Penn National continues to assess the damage caused by the fire and plans to have a team comprised of operational and construction personnel review the property as quickly as possible following clearance from local fire and public safety officials. A command center has been established on site at the property’s hotel. The company is currently unable to provide an estimate on a re-opening date for the property. Penn National has established an employee assistance “Hotline” at 815-793-4474 for its displaced employees and will be providing updates as they become available on the casino’s website at www.empresscasino.com.

Peter M. Carlino, Chief Executive Officer of Penn National, commented, “Our first priority was to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees and we are thankful that no injuries have been reported following the diligent evacuation of the property. We currently only have preliminary reports on the condition of the property but there appears to be extensive damage to the land-based pavilion. As soon as practicable we will deploy a team to assess the scope of the damage following which we will quickly develop a plan that will allow us to bring the property back into operation so that we can bring our over 800 employees back to work as soon as possible. We encourage all of the employees of Empress Casino to contact the employee ‘Hotline’ or visit the casino website for important information and further updates.”

The company carries a builders’ risk insurance policy for the on-going renovations with a policy limit of $57 million, inclusive of $14 million for delay in completion and $43 million for property damage. In addition, the Company carries comprehensive business interruption and property damage insurance for the operational components of the Empress Casino with an overall limit of $228 million. The operational insurance policy includes a $2.5 million property damage deductible and a 48-hour business interruption deductible for the peril of fire.