Detroit, Cleveland media praise Toledo casinoWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
A sneak peek of the Hollywood Casino Toledo on May 21 gave the media a chance to get a look at Penn National Gaming’s latest property before its May 29 opening.
Many reported on the glamorous 1930s style, the food and the games — but also on the fact that Toledo’s casino could siphon business from Detroit’s three casinos.
A May 22 story by Matt Helms in the Detroit Free Press emphasized the glitz of the Hollywood Casino Toledo in addition to the worries that the joint might take away patrons from Detroit casinos:
“Analysts said Detroit’s casinos could take as much as a 5 percent hit to their revenues once all of the Ohio casinos are up and running. A study done for the city estimates it will lose $30 million a year in revenue by 2015. Mayor Dave Bing’s administration said it is already factoring that loss into its budgets.”
Helms also pointed out that the new casino is smoke free, aside from designated outdoor areas for smokers, and doesn’t have a hotel attached, unlike Detroit’s casinos.
The Detroit News also reported that Toledo’s casino could be a hit to the Motor City’s casinos.
Karl Henkel reported: “Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, which opened May 14 (in Cleveland), and Hollywood Casino Toledo together represent the greatest threat to Detroit’s three gambling destinations — MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown and MotorCity casinos — which last year generated $1.4 billion in revenue.”
The May 22 story also touched on the different benefits the Detroit casinos offered versus Toledo’s.
“Promotions and discounts will play a role in the casino competition. John McNamara, marketing operations manager at Hollywood Casino, said it will offer certain benefits but won’t immediately copy Detroit’s “comp”-heavy model.
The casino will have a tiered rewards program for food, drinks and retail comps, and plans to give away a car sometime in July, McNamara said.
By contrast, Detroit’s casinos offer free plays of games along with food discounts.”
Toledo’s casino being largely smoke-free might not be beneficial, one source in the story also said.
“Casinos that have tried to reduce smoking have not done well,” said Jake Miklojcik, a casino analyst and president of Michigan Consultants in Lansing.
A story reported by Sandra McNeill for CBS Detroit focused on the art deco meets Hollywood décor:
“When you walk into the Hollywood Casino the theme is evident. Photographs of late movie stars from the well-known to the more obscure decorate the walls.”
McNeill’s piece also discussed the hiring of Michiganders at the Ohio casino: “The new casino is giving jobs not just to residents from Ohio, but also to those from Michigan.
Detroiter London Johnson, who has worked at the MGM Grand as a coat check attendant, said her new job will be worth the hour-long daily commute.”
Cleveland recently saw the opening of Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and Cincinnati and Columbus are set to open their own casinos.
Thomas Ott for The Plain Dealer wrote: “The Cleveland casino is vertical — four floors — tucked into the heart of a downtown and is expected to see spin-off traffic. The Hollywood is all one floor, will have entertainment and dining options not found at the Horseshoe and sits in a sea of parking less than five miles from a farmer’s field.”
He also noted that Hollywood’s parking is free, while the Horseshoe’s parking costs $15-35, although that fee can be waived if patrons “gamble for at least a half-hour and wager certain minimums.”
The Cleveland casino does beat Toledo when it comes to the number of games — but not wide open space. Ott wrote:
“The Hollywood Casino has 2,002 slot and video-poker machines, 60 gaming tables and 20 poker tables, fewer than the Horseshoe in every category. But the Hollywood has nearly 30,000 more square feet of gaming space, resulting in an open and airy feel comparable to that of a mall.”
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