Stepping into the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio is a bit like stepping back into Tinsel Town's glorious Golden Age, where the images of beloved icons of the silver screen like Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable oversee an audience enjoying one of the city's newest attractions.
An Art Deco-inspired facade and interior decor evoke the glamour and excitement of a Hollywood premiere, and the premiere of the Toledo casino in May of 2012 starred beloved Toledo native and actor Jamie Farr playing emcee to an audience of 10,000 first-day casino guests.
The casino's first month was a box-office success, netting more than $20 million in profits during its debut month and pumping more than $7.5 million in tax revenues into county, city and school coffers. Those numbers don't reflect the take from non-gambling revenue like food, drink and souvenir sales, but they do give an idea of the potential impact the casino with its 1,300 employees could have on the Toledo economy.
Toledo's Hollywood Casino is part of the Penn National Gaming chain and one of four casinos planned to open in Ohio that include casinos in Cleveland (open now), Columbus (opening this week) and Cincinnati (planned February 2013 opening).
The $320 million complex sits on a 44-acre piece of property at the Maumee River and I-75, making it easily accessible from southern Michigan and points further south in Ohio.
Gamblers have access to a 125,000-square-foot gaming floor with 2,002 slot machines, 60 game tables and 20 poker tables.
I visited the casino on a Monday afternoon a few months after its opening, and although I'm admittedly not much of a gambler (beyond the occasional lottery ticket purchase), I found plenty of interesting things to check out.
I liked the fact that the casino is smoke-free. There are two covered smoking areas outdoors to accommodate those who do wish to light up.
The Hollywood Casino has four restaurants, a gift store and lounges that feature live entertainment daily.
Entertainment ranges from local and regional acoustic and small jazz acts to start off each week, with rock and country acts often featuring nationally known acts and late-night DJs taking stage towards the end of each week. Check the casino's Facebook page for its latest entertainment listings.
The gift store carries the obligatory t-shirts and other casino souvenirs, but you can also find some fun gifts like jewelry, scarves, purses and unique decor pieces--a plus if you're running late and suddenly remember you forgot someone's birthday, need to do some holiday shopping or just want to spend a little of your winnings before you head home.
The casino's restaurants all carry names inspired by the film industry.
We popped into the casino's Final Cut, an upscale restaurant featuring steaks and seafood, along with a glamorous selection of Hollywood movie costumes on display.
Visitors can enjoy a Vegas-style repast at the Epic Buffet, with its flaming grill top and numerous glass cases of beautiful pastries and animals meticulously carved and constructed from fruit and vegetables.
The Scene, with its many televisions, is a sports bar that casino officials hope will be popular with sports fans, especially as football season heats up this fall.
The Take 2 Grill, meanwhile, is a 24-hour restaurant geared for those seeking a quick breakfast or burger.
Want to catch a quick quiet moment? Check out the small bar near the Final Cut restaurant. They offered a late-afternoon happy hour with reasonable drink prices when I visited the casino.
Need a refresher course before you tackle the tables at the casino? Check out the Toledo Hollywood Casino's Web site for some helpful tutorials about playing games like blackjack, craps, roulette and poker.
There is also a free Hollywood Casino app available for iPhone and Android users featuring information about upcoming entertainment and the ability to make a reservation at the casino's Final Cut restaurant.
Thanks to Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and Destination Toledo CVB, which provided lodging, meals and a tour of Toledo-area activities for my review during my most recent visit to Maumee Bay, with no further compensation. I was free to express my own opinions about my stay and experiences, and the opinions expressed here are mine.
© Dominique King 2012 All rights reserved