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AURORA, IL-A $78-million expansion at the Hollywood Casino here has already paid off in the Dallas-based company’s bottom line. Net revenues at the riverboat gambling house were up 20.1% over the second quarter of 2001 to a record $63.1 million.

The makeover replaced the two original riverboat casinos on the Fox River with a 53,000-sf dockside casino. The re-openings took place Feb. 15 and June 14, according to the company.

Despite the improvements aimed at building what Hollywood Casino Corp. considers the “premier gaming and entertainment product in the Chicago marketplace,” the Aurora gambling outlet ranked third among the state’s nine casinos last month in gross receipts at $25 million, 26% below perennial leader Grand Victoria in Elgin, which raked in nearly $34 million.

Besides 200 new slot machines boosting the total to 1,100, the new casino boasts the only poker room in the Chicago market. The expansion also included a new buffet as well as a new parking structure.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Casino is not immune from the effects of higher taxes imposed by the state legislature, the company says. It paid out $191,000 in severance payments in the second quarter as it reduced payrolls as well as hours of operation of its food and beverage outlets.

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