TOLEDO: The new Hollywood Casino Toledo features more than 2,000 slot machines and 60 table games.
So does the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland.
Hollywood, which opens at 2 p.m. May 29, has a buffet, restaurants, poker room, high limit room and valet parking.
So does Horseshoe, which opened last week.
Hollywood has no casino-branded hotel on site.
Neither does Horseshoe.
Both are smoke-free. Both will operate 24 hours. And both owners figure they’ve invested more than $300 million in their projects.
Gamblers will find plenty of similarities between Ohio’s first two commercial casinos, which are promising to bring a little Las Vegas-style glitz and provide an economic boost to their Rust Belt cities. But they also will discover significant differences.
Hollywood, owned and operated by Penn National Gaming Inc., was built new a few miles outside of downtown Toledo along the Maumee River. There are homes across the street. All its gaming and amenities are spread over a single floor.
Horseshoe, owned by Rock Gaming and operated by Caesars Entertainment, is inside the former Higbee’s department store in the heart of downtown Cleveland. The 81-year-old building on Public Square next to the Terminal Tower was remodeled to house the casino, which is spread over four levels.
As casino owner Dan Gilbert has stated, it is an “urban casino.”
Hollywood has no such overt urban feel. The main outside entrance resembles a movie theater, and the interior art deco style is designed to transport gamblers to 1930s Hollywood.
Giant posters of classic films such as The Great Escape and Raintree County, and large black-and-white photos of Hollywood royalty — Marilyn Monroe, George Burns and Paul Newman — adorn columns amid the slot machines. (There also are huge posters of modern movies.)
“We are so excited to bring Hollywood to Toledo, Ohio,” general manager Richard St. Jean said Monday during a media tour of the casino.
The casino, with its high ceiling, is awash in color — from the red, yellow and blue carpeting to the giant flat- screen televisions that are never out of view.
Meanwhile, Horseshoe has earth tones: browns, tans and golds. The ceilings are much lower and the interior feels less open because of the age of the building and sight lines.
Comparing the two casinos
Perhaps the biggest difference — one that will matter most to those who pinch their pennies for gambling — involves parking.
Hollywood offers free parking to all visitors in its attached 2,450-space garage.
Horseshoe has a 1,300-space dedicated garage across the street. But parking is free only to Total Rewards members who gamble for at least 30 minutes and earn 15 tier credits.
Other similarities and differences include:
• The Hollywood gift shop is inside the casino, while the Horseshoe gift shop is in a parking garage across the street.
• Hollywood has a patio deck designated for smokers. Horseshoe has no such area.
• Horseshoe is just the first phase. Owners have plans to build another facility nearby along the Cuyahoga River. There are no such plans for Hollywood.
• Horseshoe has a larger buffet, the 400-seat The Spread. Hollywood has the 260-seat, Epic Buffet. Both offer other dining options.
• Hollywood will have live entertainment in its 80-seat H Lounge in the center of the building. Horseshoe has no large entertainment area.
• Hollywood will market itself to the Toledo, Detroit and Fort Wayne, Ind., areas. There are no plans to advertise in the Cleveland market. Neal Perry, who oversees the table games at Hollywood, said the casino expects to capture gamblers who are now headed to the three casinos in Detroit.
• Horseshoe expects to draw 5 million visits in its first year. Hollywood has estimated its attendance at 2.8 million.
• Both Penn National and Rock Ohio Caesars — the partnership between Rock Gaming and Caesars Entertainment — have other Ohio properties.
Penn National is developing the Hollywood Casino Columbus. It also plans to relocate its two horse tracks and turn them into video slots parlors.
Under the plan, Raceway Park in Toledo will move to Dayton and Beulah Park in suburban Columbus will move to Austintown near Youngstown. Both tracks will be branded as Hollywood properties.
Rock Ohio Caesars is developing the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, and has discussed relocating its Thistledown horse track from suburban Cleveland to the Akron area.
• Since Horseshoe is operated by Caesars, its members program, called Total Rewards, covers Caesars properties across the country.
Penn National is working on having its Marquee Rewards program do the same with its properties.
Hollywood officials also expect another similarity between its casino and Horseshoe, which was overrun with excited gamblers after it opened.
“You’ll see something very similar to what you saw in Cleveland,” Jason Birney, vice president of marketing, said about the public reaction.
For details about the casinos, go to:
• www.hollywoodcasino toledo.com.
• www.caesars.com/ casinos/horseshoe-cleveland.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.