WEST DES MOINES |  The state board that oversees gambling approved Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City’s planned expansion at a meeting Thursday.

The 2-year-old casino plans a $6.5 million, 7,800-square-foot expansion that will add a high-stakes gambling area, a wine bar and a private lounge.

The project previously was estimated at $5 million.

“I’m happy things are going well and the market is growing,” Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission chairman Jeff Lamberti said during Thursday’s meeting. “It confirms what we thought when we did this project.”

Thursday’s approval was the last regulatory approval required for the expansion project, according to Todd Moyer, the casino’s general manager. Moyer said he believes construction could begin within 30 days with project completion six months after, or roughly February 2017.

“That’s kind of a target we have to get open,” Moyer said.

The expansion will give the casino 50 new slot machines, two blackjack tables, and a wine bar featuring 125 different labels.

Moyer said the expansion maintains the casino’s original theme of providing a variety of entertainment options.

“This expansion encapsulates that same kind of feeling, that same kind of objective. We’re not just adding gaming units, we’re creating a whole new experience,” Moyer said. “In 7,800 square feet we’re really building an entire casino. What more could you want?”

The Sioux City council and planning and zoning commission previously approved the project.

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