Enticed by a huge, month-long, multimedia ad campaign, I headed west on I-70 Friday afternoon to see what all the excitement created by Penn National Gaming at the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway was all about.
Surely with all that rain we wouldn’t have any trouble ducking right in for a quick peek into the metro’s newest casino. After all, this was a sleepy Friday afternoon.
The parking garage and every parking lot and space close to the place was packed. So we parked adjacent to Livestrong Sporting Park and took a shuttle bus to the new gambling hall. The driver forewarned us that the place was jumpin’ and that there was a long line in the rain with a 45 minute to an hour wait—OUTSIDE!
He was correct.
Let’s just say that we ventured beyond the line, and what we found once inside confirmed that we were not in Kansas anymore.
The HOLLYWOOD CASINO is a total class act.
From its design, layout and glitz, this $411 million jewel overlooking the Kansas Speedway at turn two could pass for a brand new casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Except, of course, I couldn’t bet on the Super Bowl since according to Hollywood casino VP of Marketing Dean Doria, sport books are only legal in Delaware and Las Vegas.
About those servers hovering around the tables with free drinks for players…Only soft drinks and water are free. You must pay for beer or other alcoholic beverages according to Kansas law.
What percentage of the local gaming market is Hollywood Casino shooting for?
I don’t think I ever got a straight forward figure, but it’s apparent that the new complex is counting heavily on Johnson County patronage. Which is not to say that Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties won’t be a big factor as well. And crossing the state line from Missouri is definitely encouraged.
Speaking of Missouri, Hollywood’s sister casino, the ARGOSY has a ‘Marquee Rewards’ program with reciprocal priviledges at Hollywood.
Some other observations.
Currently Hollywood Casino does not have a showroom but is planning on adding one as part of phase 2 of the facility in a couple of years. Ditto an adjacent hotel which will also be part of phase 2.
How large a hotel?
To be determined by volume of attendance in the near future.
Is there Baccarat gaming at Hollywood Casino? Yes, but it’s a small table game. (Same game just small tables.)
And what about Hollywood’s smoking policy?
It’s allowed in most of the gaming spaces although a small area has been set aside where puffing is a no-no.
Marketing VP Doria stresses that the building is equipped with a superior ventilation system, and smoking in any of the casino’s restaurants is prohibited.
And what if you’re a whale – you know – a really big spender?
Come on down, Hollywood says. The casino has no less than five special hosts to placate whales and will hire more if needed.
Maximum bets on table games is $5,000, but can be adjusted upwards by customer demand.
The only problem is that Kansas law forbids the casino from extending credit to gamblers.
So the big boys will either have to make a lot of ATM and credit card use or carry the green stuff in their rucksacks.
It was apparent that many of the dealers we observed were still pretty green and pit bosses often had to be called to tables. But that should work itself out with time and practice.
Finally there is no dress code, including even in the most upscale restaurant at Hollywood called Final Cut.
The bottom line: the movie-themed Hollywood Casino is a class act and a major new destination for the greater Legend’s community as well as for the Wyandotte County and Kansas tax base.
Let the games begin!