AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course is the last of Penn National Gaming’s facilities in Ohio.
Penn National President Tim Wilmott said he is confident the Austintown racino will be a success and Ohio won’t turn into Atlantic City. He said Ohio is different for a number of reasons and location is a major factor.
There are four casinos and seven race tracks with video lottery terminals spread throughout Ohio.
“There is no more gaming that has been authorized by the state of Ohio,” Wilmott said.
He said the business model has changed a lot since casinos started popping up in Atlantic City in the 1970s. Four of that city’s 12 casinos have shut down since Jan. 1.
“Now Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Delaware all have passed legislation to allow casino gaming within their borders so their feeder markets now have been taken away and there is no adjustment of supply and demand,” Wilmott said.
He said it takes a few years for gaming operations to stabilize, but sees room for lots of growth in Ohio. That is something first-time visitors at the racino agree with.
“I think this area is hungry for success and I think people around here will really step up to the plate and really make it successful,” Linda Koss of Girard said.
“This is something I think the economy needs right now, right here in the Warren, Youngstown area,” Kenneth Urey of Warren said.
“It is good for the economy, so I hope it stays around,” Marilyn Workman of South Carolina said.
“Awesome. Nice. Everything is lit up nice, lights, action, fun,” Ray Montero of Struthers said.
Beyond the VLTS, the racino also hopes to attract people by offering live entertainment in the H Lounge. On Thursday from 6 to 11 p.m., the John Reese Project will perform. On Friday, Kimmie Horne will perform from 6 to 10 p,.m., followed by The Sensations until 2 a.m.
The John Reese Project will return from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Kimmie Horne will play until 2 a.m. On Sunday, Redline will play from 6 to 11 p.m. and on Monday, Time Trax will play from 6 to 11 p.m. For future live entertainment, visit the racino’s Facebook page.
“It’s beautiful. They did a wonderful job and I am happy that they are having live entertainment,” Renee Suri of Youngstown said.
Live horse racing will begin in late November, but racing action is being simulcasted 365 days a year from almost a dozen tracks.
“The Breeder’s Cup is coming up at the end of October, early November. That is always a big day for us in our simulcasting operation,” Wilmott said.
Pam Politsky of Warren said she brought her dad to the racino because he likes the horse racing.
“He is anxious for the horse racing to get started and yes, it’s nice having this close to us. It’s fun. It’s something to do,” Politsky said.
Stephanie Enasko of Warren said her husband passed away three years ago and he was waiting for the racino to open.
“He would have loved to be here today,” Enasko said.