Harrah's marking casino's 30th anniversary

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Harrah's marking casino's 30th anniversary
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While Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel has graced the Ohio River since June 2006, its roots go back further. This week marks the 30th anniversary since riverboat gambling came to town.

The original Players Riverboat Casino made its way to Metropolis on Saturday, Feb. 6, 1993. The boat began operations on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 1993, and within 10 days, had welcomed approximately 16,000 patrons. This week marks that 30th anniversary.

Merv Griffin (second from left) prepares to cut the ribbon for the opening of Players Riverboat Casino in March 1993. He is joined by (from left) vice chairman of Players International David Fishman, then-Metropolis Mayor Bill Komer, then-State Sen. Jim Rae and Fred Edgar, the brother of then-Gov. Jim Edgar.

Sherry Sommer Wessel was among many Massac County natives to become employed by Players Riverboat Casino in 1992. She began as manager of Players Gift Shop and, in 2017, became the senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel.

David Fishman (at podium), vice chairman of Players International, makes an announcement at Dorothy Miller Park about the coming of Players Riverboat Casino to Metropolis.

Kitty Oldham, of Metropolis, was the first to buy a boarding pass for Feb. 23, 1993, with a maiden voyage of Players Riverboat Casino. She was given the honor of having the first pull on the slot machine.

Some of the many Players Women in Business included (from left, front row) sales manager Kay Kearney, director of marketing Jahnae Erpenbach, lead revenue auditor Jennifer Markus, credit/collections manager Kristi Thorsby; (middle row) executive assistant Vickie Boren, marketing services supervisor Christina Felts, risk manager Diana Grimes, human resources supervisor Danielle Carter, sous chef Terri Adams; back row, director of guest services Melissa Griffith, executive casino host Kim Rochford, preferred services supervisor Shirley Sommer and wardrobe/warehouse manger Belinda Walker.

Then-Gov. Jim Edgar addresses the crowd at an event for Players Riverboat Casino. Looking on are Eva Gabor and Merv Griffin.

When it first opened, a common refrain around Metropolis was that it will never stay.

But today, Thursday, Feb. 23, “the boat” and riverboat gambling are marking 30 years at mile marker 944 on the Ohio River. From its beginnings as Players Riverboat Casino to its current status as Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since that 1993 opening, and Sherry Wessel has seen almost all of it.

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