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From the Ground Up: Early Snapshots as French Lick Casino Celebrates Sweet 16

November 02, 2022
Construction of French Lick Casino
Happy Sweet 16 to French Lick Casino! Like any other teenager, you’ve changed quite a bit and been through a few phases since officially opening on November 3, 2006. How ‘bout a look back through the years?

old driving range where French Lick Casino now is

Remember this? There used to be a driving range and tennis complex in this area prior to construction of the casino.

original French Lick Casino "boat" design

Crane working on French Lick Casino Rough
Of course, who could forget the original boat design? Indiana law at that time required casinos to be constructed on water and reflect a nautical theme. The steamboat style design came complete with decorative smokestacks and a paddle wheel. But the real excitement was inside where gaming returned to French Lick for the first time since 1949, when state officials raided and shut down the town’s illegal gambling operations.



Construction of French Lick Casino Boat

French Lick Casino Restoration

The casino project overlapped with the restoration of French Lick Springs Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel, as well as the addition of the Event Center. After a brief closure to complete renovations, French Lick Springs Hotel reopened to guests on November 3, 1996, the same day the casino opened.
French Lick Casino Construction

French Lick Casino Boat at night

French Lick Casino Boat under construction

Restoring French Lick and West Baden Springs Hotels was obviously a mammoth effort. But it had been a long time since something of this scope had been built from the ground up on resort grounds.
Interior of French Lick Casino Construction

Construction taking shape inside, with more than 1,000 slot machines just waiting for their first lucky players. 

French Lick Casino with new slot machines

Newer building of French Lick Casino

Old Brown Hotel Postcard

 When Indiana law changed in 2007 to allow for land-based casinos, the boat-themed exterior design was short lived. The casino's façade received a facelift to complement the style of the adjacent French Lick Springs Hotel. And look closely at the top of the hotel, and you can see how the 21st century casino pays homage to the area's early gambling history. A small dome was added, mirroring a similar feature from the once-famous but long-gone Brown Hotel. In the early and mid 1900s, the Brown was a hotspot for underground gambling — and conveniently located right across the road for French Lick Springs Hotel guests who visited here hoping to strike it rich.

The casino dome was made and installed by the same company that recreated the four Moorish style towers installed at the newly renovated West Baden Springs Hotel.

interior dome of french lick casino
An interior view of the dome after the follow-up renovations, which also increased the casino's interior by about 20 percent. 

Current image of french lick casino

Congrats to an eventful first 16 years, thanks for always being there when we need a little excitement, and let's keep the good times rolling together.

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