Marketing Operations Manager John McNamara promises that when Hollywood Casino Toledo opens just after Memorial Day, it will provide an experience you cannot get at casinos elsewhere, including Detroit and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
That’s why the casino will be marketed as far away as Fort Wayne, Indiana to the west and Sandusky to the east. McNamara has already heard from Michigan residents that say they look forward to coming here because Toledo’s casino will be 100 percent smoke-free.
He said visitors to Detroit’s casinos often find themselves inundated with an atmosphere of cigarette smoke. Smoking in Michigan casinos is permitted, even though the state has outlawed smoking in other public areas.
McNamara told guests at an East Toledo Club luncheon Thursday that the casino will be very high-tech and interactive. He said conservative estimates predict it will bring 2.8 million visitors per year, but he believes that number is more likely to be closer to 3.5 million.
Workers continue with construction inside Hollywood Toledo
McNamara, the former public relations director at Raceway Park, said 60 percent of visitors are expected to be from the Toledo area with the other 40 percent coming from elsewhere.
The marketing manager says the minute visitors walk in, they will be inundated with a sensory overload of visual and audio effects. That includes a huge riveted video board that will display movie trailers and casino graphics. A wine list at one of the restaurants will be made available to customers on an interactive I-Pad.
The architecture itself will be an attraction. The building, visible from Interstate 75, and the inside will include design and decor reflective of the glitz and glamour of 1930s art-deco Hollywood.
Red carpet treatment, including valet parking, and a “comfortable yet sophisticated atmosphere will be provided throughout the casino floor so guests can be entertained and dine in style wherever they may be,” says a casino fact sheet.
It continues, “The art deco motif will be complemented by the latest technology and amenities, including movie trailers and sports and entertainment programming shown on a giant serpentine video wall, plasma screens, and video trees for guests to enjoy while they play.”
For those who think the casino will draw crime — McNamara says “there are a lot of misconceptions because casinos have been sensationalized in media and television for decades — since the Rat Pack and mobsters.”
McNamara added, “It is our best interest to do everything we need to, to have safety.”
One East Toledo guest said an Ohio state legislator claimed it would bring prostitution.
“That doesn’t exist,” McNamara said. “There is no motel on site, and it’s not like there will be ladies of the night that come to the bar and sit. They stick out like a sore thumb. Yes, there will be prostitutes that will come and try to do that, but it’s not as big a problem as people think. That’s one of those things that people have an opinion on, and if people have an opinion, that’s fine.
“The casino will be one of the safest, if not the safest, places in the area because of the eye in the sky. Somebody is watching all the time,” and he continued to explain how the casino’s security staff operates, plus Toledo police are expected to respond and the city is building a new fire station closer to the casino site.
The casino is nearing completion on a 44-acre site on the banks of the Maumee River just west of I-75 at the Miami Street exit — just five minutes from downtown Toledo.
“A lot of people have asked why we picked that location compared to the Marina District,” McNamara said. He explained it was because of its location off the interstate and the Marina District was not available at the time because it was under the control of developer Larry Dillin.
In addition, the target market is adults ages 35 to 60, and mostly women.
“Older adults do not like driving in urban settings,” McNamara said. “We have all the advantages of being near downtown without having to drive in a highly congested urban setting.”
At over 1,200 full and part-time positions, including at least 90 percent from Toledo metropolitan area, it will be one of Northwest Ohio’s largest employers. That does not include the 2,100 construction jobs currently at the site.
The $300 million development includes a $50 million license fee to the State of Ohio designated for workforce development programs. The city also wrote a $1 million check to the City of Toledo for infrastructure paid for before the casino began construction. The casino is also paying for all road improvements in the area, including new ramps off I-75 and two stoplights on Miami Street.
The facility is 290,000 square feet, including structured parking, with the casino floor square footage totalling 125,000 square feet on a single floor.
There will be 2,600 gaming positions and 2,000 electronic machines. In addition, it will have 60 live table games, plus 20 live poker tables, blackjack, roulette, craps, and carnival-style games. McNamara said, unlike Windsor, Canada, there will be sports betting because it remains illegal in Ohio.
Thirty-three percent of gross revenue goes to taxes. Its estimated economic impact is projected at $25.3 million in annual tax revenue for the City of Toledo, Lucas County, and all school districts in the county once all four casinos in Ohio are open. Another two percent of gross revenue is designated for problem gaming, plus the casino will have responsible game requirements built in with resources on the property, McNamara said.
It will include five restaurants and lounges, including—
• Final Cut Steakhouse — 130 seat fine dining and 28-seat lounge. Food will be flown in daily from throughout the world and will have an elaborate wine selection. McNamara compared the restuarant to a Mancy’s Steakhouse experience, adding that the goal is to get the attention of Forbes magazine.
“It’s definitely going to be of the highest quality market,” McNamara said. “And, the experience is at the level of service — something you would only find in Las Vegas. No detail has gone unthought.”
• Epic Buffet — 260 seats will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. with brunch on Sundays.
• Skybox — 173-seat sports bar and grill, which includes hand-blown glass lights overhead. Instead of walls, it is enclosed with glass that displays high definition television. You will be able to see through the glass into the casino, but the glass is coated to prevent a glare. It will have on tap 18 different draft beers and overlooks the H Lounge. The SkyBox menus are a brush aluminum with the food items screen printed.
• H Lounge — 80-seat entertainment lounge that will present live entertainment seven days a week. On weekends, with standing room only crowds, it will be able to cater to 200 people, plus Skybox guests will be able to enjoy the entertainment. All types of entertainment is expected, including local bands and nationally touring tribute bands.
• Take 2 Grill — 40-seat grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and desserts in a bistro cafeteria setting that will be open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.