Hollywood Casino Columbus is gaming leader in state, works to keep it that way – The Columbus Dispatch

Marla Rose The Columbus Dispatch @MarlaMRose

Hollywood Casino Columbus was the last of Ohio’s four casinos to open its gilded doors, but 4 1/2 years later, it’s pulling in more money than any of the others. 

Its success wasn’t a sure thing. Ohioans who were regulars at other states’ casinos had to be courted to change their habits. And then there were new competitors, as racetracks added casino-style games to lure visitors.

But Hollywood Columbus is continuing to find ways to gain new patrons and keep existing ones interested through promotions and entertainment offerings.  

Owned by Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming, the casino employs about 1,000 workers. It welcomed 2.9 million visitors in 2016, an average of more than 8,000 per day. For each of the first five months of 2017, Hollywood Columbus reported higher revenue than any other Ohio casino. In 2016, it was tops for nine out of 12 months. 

History

Penn National originally planned to build its Columbus casino at the edge of the Arena District near Downtown. Pushback from business interests, including Arena District developer Nationwide Realty Investors and its partner Capitol Square — then controlled by John F. Wolfe, former publisher of The Dispatch who died last year — ended in a ballot initiative that moved the casino’s location to the West Side.

Himbert Sinopoli, general manger of Hollywood Columbus, said its home on Georgesville Road is in a very visible, high-traffic location, but a place where many patrons might not visit if not for the casino. 

“We often get comments even today from people who haven’t been to the casino before, or who say they haven’t been to this area in years,” Sinopoli said. 

“A lot of the success of a facility comes down to access,” said David G. Schwartz, director for the Center for Gaming

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