Toledo joins Ohio gaming boom
Stage nearly set at Toledo Casino (5/20/12)
Before the sprawling gambling floor, the ornate pillars, and flashy television screens, the Hollywood Casino Toledo was just a construction site, an outer shell of a building with no walls. That's how casino general manager Richard St. Jean remembered the property overlooking the Maumee River when he visited for the first time in June, 2011. "What was really fascinating was watching the building grow," Mr. St. Jean said as he sat in his office, which is decorated with Ocean's Eleven and GoodFellas movie posters. "I'm particularly impressed with what we've been able to build and the quality for the amount of money we're spending." Mr. St. Jean will unveil his $320 million casino to the public May 29 at 2 p.m. in a much anticipated grand opening.
How much will slot machines pay back? (5/20/12)
COLUMBUS — When players insert money into the 2,002 slot machines on the glitzy, carpeted floor of Toledo's new Hollywood Casino, state law guarantees that the flashy, computerized devices will pay out on average at least 85 percent of what they take in over the long haul. While that 85 percent is generally on the higher side of the government-mandated industry standard, most casinos across the country pay out more than that in hopes of getting an edge on the competition. Hollywood Casino Toledo — Ohio's second 24-hour, Las Vegas-style casino — is set to open May 29 on the East Toledo riverfront adjacent to Rossford. Last Monday's opening of Rock Ohio Caesars Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland marked the state's first foray into casino gambling. Ohio law allows the Ohio Casino Control Commission to raise the minimum payout of slot machines, the biggest draw to casinos.
(5/20/12) Competition suggests loss of Detroit revenue
Ohio's gamble could be Detroit's loss. Some of the money gambled away at the slot machines and over gaming tables set to open in East Toledo nine days from today would have gone to the three Detroit casinos, according to a recent analysis by a global management consulting firm. The report by McKinsey & Co. said gaming revenues for the casinos in Detroit will start decreasing as the competition from Ohio increases. "After full roll-out of Ohio casinos, Detroit's casinos will no longer be the obvious gaming choice for day-trippers," the McKinsey report said.
Legal fight over gambling in Ohio still being waged (5/20/12)
COLUMBUS — The second of Ohio's Las Vegas-style casinos could open on the Toledo riverfront next week with a major legal question still unsettled. A Franklin County Common Pleas judge is expected to decide soon whether to dismiss a lawsuit that claims Gov. John Kasich was out of line when his office negotiated side deals with the casino developers that, in part, redefined a state business tax in a way more to the casinos' liking. That deal led to the promise of an additional $220 million in casino payments to the state over the next decade. The case does not challenge the right of the four voter-approved casinos to exist, but it could have a major impact on their bottom lines.
Hollywood parent 3rd among U.S. gaming firms (5/20/12)
Since going public in 1994, Penn National Gaming has grown from a single horse track a few miles outside Harrisburg, Pa., to become the third-largest gaming company in the United States, with annual revenues of more than $2.5 billion. Penn National's start came with the opening of Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa., in 1972. The first slot machines weren't added until 1997 at Penn National's newly acquired Charles Town Races in eastern West Virginia. Since then, the company has expanded aggressively, mainly by purchasing several established horse tracks and casinos across the United States.
Visitors to casino face array of choices (5/20/12)
When the elevator door opens and you enter the gaming floor of Hollywood Casino Toledo, expect to find yourself in the immediate throes of sensory overload. You'll try to decide which direction to go in or which game to play. You might be hungry, or you might be thirsty. You might be overwhelmed by the ornate, multi-colored carpeting, the pings and whirs of the 2,002 slot machines or the thousands of playing cards moving across the felt of the casino floor's 80 gaming tables. They're all tempting pieces of a puzzle in an environment that's designed to evoke a golden-era, Art Deco Hollywood motif. Instead, take a deep breath to gather your bearings before going any further, and focus on your expectations as a customer.
Glamour on display at Toledo casino (5/22/12)
Hollywood Casino Toledo upped the ante Monday -- turning on all the glitz and glamour, partially as a trial run before next week's grand opening, but also as a chance for reporters to check out the new facility and report back to potential patrons so they come with their wallets. Casino General Manager Richard St. Jean opened the media day tour with a cheer from the dozens of dealers practicing on the casino's tables.
Hollywood Casino bets even non-gamblers will be entertained (5/24/12)
The soon-to-open Hollywood Casino features more than 2,000 slot machines and dozens and dozens of live poker, blackjack, roulette, and craps tables. But there's plenty more to the $320 million complex than games on the casino floor. Opening at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Hollywood Casino at 1968 Miami St. south of downtown Toledo on the Maumee River, will feature four restaurant options, including an upscale sports bar, and an entertainment and ultra lounge featuring daily live entertainment.
Card counters likely to tally up trouble at casino (5/27/12)
When Hollywood Casino Toledo opens its doors to the public for the first time Tuesday, it hopes thousands of people pour in with cash to lose. But casino bosses also will be on the lookout for a different class of gamblers -- those who have proved they can beat the house. They are simply called "card counters" by those in the gambling industry, and what they do is not illegal, but if they are spotted on the casino floor they'll be asked to leave.
Local police to step up patrols for casino's first days (5/27/12)
Toledo police say they are intent on making sure everyone stays safe when Hollywood Casino Toledo opens to the public Tuesday. "We want to provide a safe environment to all visitors to the casino," police Capt. Brad Weis said. In the weeks leading up to the opening, police have finalized their plans, saying they will have a number of officers — Captain Weis wouldn't say how many, exactly — specifically monitoring activity around the casino with a focus on traffic issues that might arise. The officers will be in the area on detail for two weeks, the captain said.
It's showtime: Hollywood Casino Toledo opens its doors (5/29/12)
Slot machines running? Check. Floors polished? Done. Giant inauguration ribbon in place? Complete. All that was missing at Hollywood Casino Toledo on Monday, a day before today's long-awaited opening, were customers. Hollywood Casino Toledo officially opens to the public at 2 p.m. An invitation-only inauguration ceremony is scheduled for the morning, with guests including Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, city councilmen, and other officials. Entertainment is planned throughout the day, including live music, radio broadcasts from inside the casino, and a disc jockey.
Hooray for Hollywood: New casino boasts 4 new restaurants, 1 lounge (5/29/12)
Toledo's four newest restaurants open today, all under the same roof. The roof happens to be enormous -- 125,000 square feet or so, covering Hollywood Casino Toledo. With an estimated average of 7,600 gamblers expected to come through the doors each day, that means a lot of hungry people looking for a lot of food. Overseeing a busy staff that makes sure they all get fed is Brian Hein, the casino's new executive chef. At 42, he has been in restaurants for 20 years, since graduating from the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Culinary Institute. He began working in restaurants in his native Kansas City, Kan., and worked his way up in a couple of national chains. When Ameristar Casinos came calling 10 years ago, he gladly made the jump to the small but satisfying world of casino food service.
Businesses plan for economic ripple effect from casino (5/29/12)
It's time. After years of voter referendums, months of construction, an 11th-hour delay, and what has seemed like a media drumroll over the last few weeks, Hollywood Casino Toledo will finally open its doors today. Although the exact impact that the $320 million complex has on the region has yet to be determined, plenty of people are staking their bets. In downtown Rossford, where the casino's sand-colored facade is clearly visible from the main drag, nine new businesses have set up shop in the last year, Mayor Neil A. MacKinnon III said. These include a cigar shop, a combination pawn shop and consignment store, and a Chinese restaurant, many filling up storefronts that once sat vacant.