By Kurt Madar

The Lucky 7 Casino in Smith River will hold a ribbon cutting Friday to celebrate completion of the first phase of its casino expansion project.

andquot;We are really excited that the project is moving along,andquot; said Casino General Manager Terry Westrick.

The first phase of the four-phase project involved adding additional parking in the rear of the casino and constructing a covered parking area, Westrick said.

andquot;We are trying to do as much of the construction as possible without disrupting business,andquot; Westrick said.

The casino broke ground on its expansion project last May, and Westrick expects the project to take roughly three years.

The expansion project will cost a total of $30 million and double the size of the casino while adding poker.

andquot;We only have blackjack currently,andquot; Westrick said.

Phase two of the project will double the size of the casino, adding a 3,500-square-foot conference room/bingo hall that will seat 300 people. The conference room will be modular so that it can host multiple conferences at the same time.

Along with the conference room will come a catering kitchen, employee area and administrative suite.

Phase three will involve remodeling the existing casino space so it is uniform with the expansion built in phase two.

Phase four will be a 90-room hotel standing three stories tall with ocean views.

andquot;Altogether, the expansion is going to increase the size of the casino from 2,300 square feet to 100,000,andquot; Westrick said.