Hollywood Casino Toledo Opens

On Tuesday, May 29, 2012, the Hollywood Casino Toledo opened to the public following a morning VIP reception.  The new casino facility is owned by Penn National Gaming, and boasts a 125,000 square foot gaming floor featuring more than 2,000 slot machines and 60 table games.  In a press release announcing the opening of the Hollywood Casino Toledo, Peter Carlino, Chairman and CEO of Penn National Gaming, stated, “[w]e are grateful to the State of Ohio and the Ohio Casino Control Commission for their work to make this day possible, and we are proud of the partnerships we have established with the cities of Toledo and Rossford and Lucas County to bring new jobs and tax revenues that are driving an economic recovery in the region. This spectacular casino marked by luxurious design and modern grandeur offers guests a regional destination with premier gaming, dining and entertainment options as well as the convenience of a dynamic, single floor layout, all at the crossroads of Northwest Ohio. Just seconds from I-75 and its nearby intersection with the Ohio Turnpike, Hollywood Toledo is in a convenient and easily accessible location for players from Michigan, Indiana, elsewhere in Ohio and beyond.”

The Hollywood Casino Toledo has reported large crowds during its first few days of operation, and has estimated that more than 10,000 patrons visited the casino facility on Tuesday.

Penn National Gaming is also currently building the Hollywood Casino Columbus, which is scheduled to open in October.  The Columbus facility, which is a $400 Million investment, will be larger than the Hollywood Casino Toledo and will feature more than 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games.

The opening of the Hollywood Casino Toledo follows that of the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, which opened on May 14th.  The Horseshoe Casino Cleveland is majority owned by Rock Gaming, LLC, which is also slated to open the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati in the spring of 2013.

Ohio Court Dismissed Challenge to the Constitutionality of VLT and Casino Statutes

Yesterday, May 30, 2012, Judge Timothy Horton of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas issued an opinion dismissing a lawsuit filed against, among others, Ohio Governor John Kasich, members of the Ohio Lottery Commission, members of the Ohio Casino Control Commission and the Commissioner of the Ohio Department of Taxation.  The lawsuit, filed by the conservative “Ohio Roundtable” organization and other interests opposed to an expansion of gaming in Ohio, sought to challenge the constitutionality of bringing Video Lottery Terminals (“VLTs”) to the state’s horse racetracks, as well as many aspects of the deal that was struck between Gov. Kasich and commercial casino developers in June of 2011 concerning, among other things, casino licensing fees and application of the commercial activities tax to gaming revenue.  The plaintiffs’ main argument was that VLTs cannot be installed at the state’s racetracks without a statewide vote of the Ohio electorate. In passing the VLT law, the Ohio legislature has contended that the 2009 constitutional amendment authorizing four commercial casinos in the state also gave the Ohio Lottery Commission the power to expand its offerings in the form of electronic gambling devices.

The Defendants in the case moved to dismiss the matter, arguing that the Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the instant lawsuit.  Following the submission of briefs and oral arguments, the Court agreed.  A press release from the Court announcing the decision quoted from Judge Horton’s opinion, which provides that the judiciary “operates within certain boundaries and should not be used wantonly and/or for political or social gain. Throughout their pleadings and oral arguments, Plaintiffs have offered little more than bare assertions of harm or injury.”  As such, the Court dismissed the lawsuit based on the Plaintiffs’ lack of standing to press their claims.

This decision paves the way for the state’s seven horse racetracks to offer VLT wagering.  The VLT legislation allows up to 2,500 devices to be placed at each track facility - - for a total of 17,500 VLTs that could soon be operated within the state. 

A copy of Judge Horton’s decision in the matter of State ex rel. Robert L. Walgate Jr. v. John R. Kasich, Governor, et al., Case No. 11 CV 13126, can be found on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas website, located at:  http://fcdcfcjs.co.franklin.oh.us/CaseInformationOnline/

Ohio’s First “Racino” Set to Open Tomorrow

Scioto Downs, a horse racetrack in Columbus, Ohio that is owned and operated by MTR Gaming Group, Inc., has announced that tomorrow at 2:00 pm it will begin offering Video Lottery Terminal (“VLT”) wagering at its facility.  Scioto Downs, which began its harness racing season on May 10th, will initially be offering 2,125 VLTs, with the option to increase the number of devices it offers for play to 2,500.  Following the approval of its license by the Ohio Lottery Commission last week, Jeffrey Dahl, President and CEO of MTR Gaming Group, said “[t]his is a significant achievement for MTR Gaming as Scioto Downs becomes the first of Ohio’s racetracks to be granted a permanent license to operate VLTs in the state. [The] opening of Scioto Downs will be the culmination of an extensive effort and we want to thank the design and construction crews as well as our MTR Gaming team members for completing the project on schedule and within budget.  We will also be conducting a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 19 to thank public officials and to officially welcome our guests to this exciting new gaming and entertainment complex.”

Furthermore, following the decision issued yesterday by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (seestory above), it is expected that the state’s six other racetracks will move forward with development plans to bring VLT wagering to their respective facilities as well. 

 

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