The casino, which first opened almost 20 years ago, has been having financial issues lately due to both a slow economy and increasing competition in the area.

The employee stock ownership plan will be managed by Chief Financial Officer Robert Barrows and Jeff Watson, the Casino Queen’s general manager and president. The casino has about 700 employees who will be able to participate in the ownership plan, which will provide retirement benefits based on the Casino Queen’s financial performance.

“It allows employees to become beneficial owners in the company,” said Watson. “The more successful the company is, the more value employees have individually in their retirement accounts.”

The deal was closed last week and included the assumption of $31 million in existing debt.

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