Archive for Friday, February 3, 2012

Revved up crowd helps open Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway

Crowds fill the floor of the new Hollywood Casino, a Las Vegas-style casino at the Kansas Speedway, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012. The casino is the first one in the Kansas City market in 15 years.

Crowds fill the floor of the new Hollywood Casino, a Las Vegas-style casino at the Kansas Speedway, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012. The casino is the first one in the Kansas City market in 15 years.

February 3, 2012


With the call of “Gentlemen, start your engines,” the ceremonial first craps shoot was thrown Friday, and the doors of the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway opened to the public.

Hollywood Casino Opening

The Hollywood Casino, a Las Vegas-style casino opened at the Kansas Speedway, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012. Enlarge video

Within 30 minutes, there were few empty seats at the 52 table games and 2,000 electronic machines. Julie Rich of Ottawa was among the first through the door, deciding to head to the bar for some video poker.

For Rich, her husband and two friends they brought along, checking out the casino on its opening day was worth taking the day off work. Rich and her husband worked in the gaming industry when they lived in Black Hawk, Colo., and she said they wanted to see what Hollywood Casino had to offer.

“We’re mainly here to have fun,” she said. “How exciting is this, to have something this close to home that looks like Vegas?”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony preceded the opening of the doors. Amidst bright lights, showgirls and special guests — NASCAR drivers Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne — the ceremony included state and local dignitaries and officials from casino operators Penn National Gaming and the International Speedway Corp.

Lesa France Kennedy, International Speedway Corporation CEO, spoke first, saying the combination of a sports facility and casino would make for a major tourist destination.

“I think it’s one of a kind; I think it’s going to be the envy of everyone in the business,” she said.

Peter Carlino, Penn National Gaming chairman and CEO, said combined with the Kansas Speedway, The Legends, Nebraska Furniture Mart and Livestrong Stadium, the casino was set to outperform its competitors in Kansas City, Mo.

“You know that the Unified Government has realized a hugely bold vision in bringing this all together,” Carlino said. “I believe this is the premiere gaming facility, not just in Kansas, but in this market — including across the river where those other guys are. This sets a new high bar.”

Dennis Wilson, executive director of the Kansas Lottery, said the casino was the “crown jewel” of the western Wyandotte County entertainment district and would further boost tourism.

“It’s not just a local destination, not just a regional destination, but a national destination,” Wilson said. “There is no need to travel any farther west than this.”

Bob Sheldon, general manager, announced a charity gambling event at the casino Monday had raised $25,000, and the casino was going to match that total to give that amount to both Sunflower House and the Kansas City, Kan., School Foundation of Excellence.

Bowyer and Kahne then threw the ceremonial first dice, and the doors opened to the public.

Janet Bimer took the opportunity to get a good look at the lights, games and layout.

“If you’ve ever been to Vegas, it looks like Vegas,” she said, nodding her head in approval.

Mary Summers of Tonganoxie said she begged her daughter-in-law, Cecilia Summers of Basehor, to bring her to the casino’s opening day.

“If we can win, it’ll be really fun,” Mary Summers said.

“We thought we might win,” Cecilia Summers added. “We thought they’d have some loose slots.”

Both agreed the casino was impressive and said it was worth it to brave the opening day crowds.

Alan Thompson, table games manager, stood back and took in the scene as he kept his eye on the games.

“I was here at 6 this morning and there was almost no one here,” he said. “And I thought, ‘This is the last time we’ll ever see this place empty.’”

Thompson spent the last year going through almost 1,500 applications for dealer positions, conducting interviews and running a dealer school for more than 100 inexperienced dealers — 93 of whom were hired on at the casino. He said he was happy to get back to the business of running the games.

“All the build-up leading up to it is important, but this is what we’re good at,” he said, motioning to the craps, blackjack and roulette tables. “It was a good learning experience opening a new facility, but once the cards start throwing and the dice start rolling, that’s when I’m at home.”


irvan moore 3 years, 9 months ago

could you tell us about the food, i love casino food

frankfussman 3 years, 9 months ago

Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County still suffer from economic stagnation. The City/County government sold out to the business interests at The Legends and don't see much of the revenue from that area. I graduated from Washington HS in Kansas City, KS, on Leavenworth Road, many years ago, and the city and county are certainly not making much progress.

Steve Jacob 3 years, 9 months ago

At least The Legends is paying off the bonds. The Power & Light isn't doing as well.

Bob Forer 3 years, 9 months ago

The never ending supply of American Fools amazes me. People lined up in line waiting for a chance to hand over their hard earned bucks to a bunch of rich guys.

seriouscat 3 years, 9 months ago

Stupid stupid stupid stupid.

"And there’s the flip side of Vegas as the template for the new American city: it represents casino capitalism at its worst. Home mortgages for all! Casinos in every neighborhood! No personal or corporate income tax! Developers get whatever they want! All hail the rich! It was supposed to defy nature, because everyone knows gambling is recession-proof.

Oops. The hangover is a doozy; almost five years and counting, unemployment is still in double digits, and thousands have left town, leaving mortgages behind with the furniture. As the late Hunter S. Thompson said, “For losers, Vegas is the meanest town on earth.”

seriouscat 3 years, 9 months ago

And now lil ole Kansas wants to walk in big daddy Vegas' footsteps. STUPID.

Tgill 3 years, 9 months ago

The cigarette smoke was horrendous Doubt if I ever will go back......Could they not afford some decent air purifiers

ldvander 3 years, 9 months ago

Right, I don't smoke. In Reno, at the Peppermill, all the smokers did not bother me a bit. Even at the Black Jack table with smokers on both sides not a problem. Down in Biloxi, though, the entire casino was a cloud of smoke that killed my eyes and walked out with a headache that was also brought on by watered down drinks. I guess The Nevada Casinos must invest in massive air cleaning systems.

Rae Hudspeth 3 years, 9 months ago

My review is on the OTS question page.

I question these folks who expound "it's just like Vegas!"

No. It's not. At all. But this is Kansas, much as I like it here, it will never be the same as the lovely Sin City.

Disclaimer: I'm a former casino bartender in Reno and Hawthorne NV, but I've been to Vegas and I much prefer the "boats" on the other side of the stateline to this failure. Oh it will make money, but I'd rather get a cheap flight out and have a really good time.

overthemoon 3 years, 9 months ago

bright shiny light will fool some folks every time. kinda makes you wonder why vegas does the huge extravaganza if people really just notice the lines of slot machines, huh?

Rae Hudspeth 3 years, 9 months ago

See, that's what I mean about Nevada...Vegas is Adult Disneyland, cheesy, trashy, overblown, but I love it all the same. The people-watching is incomparable to the neon, and the shows... oh yeah, sequins, sparkles, feathers and legs up to there! Gotta luv it. Plus, .. no need to budget for booze or a room.

morroray 3 years, 9 months ago

Generally I seldom smell any smoke in the newer casinos as the a/c is so efficient & the ceilings are high (cigars are a different story---I move away from a cigar fast). I spend most of my gambling time in Reno & South Lake Tahoe. There is some odor on my clothes when I get back to the room but the odor disappears over night by hanging the clothes up. I'm looking forward to my next trip to Lawrence & will certainly check out the new casino.

Getaroom 3 years, 9 months ago

Hey, being willingly stolen from by a casino is the new/old economics of the Capitalists Free Market gamblers. The NASCR race track Casino, where America's Lovers go to be fleeced, smoke and drink 'em up. It's their GOD GIVEN right after all and no finer entertainment and life than that. Well, maybe Super Bowl Sunday is right in there and money to be won/lost on that gamble too and a spectators heaven on earth, complete with a Nation Anthem to make you feel all patriotic inside.
But what the heck, who cares where you pay your taxes and might as well pay 'em to one of those "other" big corporations stealing your hard earned cash(instead of that evil ObamaCare, Social Security, Food Stamp ponzi scheme) while you kiss your dollars away and having so much fun paying your fair share to boot!!
Really, participate in class warfare 'cause either you pay up at Bible School Church, or the Guns and Ammo Show! There's all kinds of windmill chasing to be done bargain $$hunters - so might as well chase down a big ca-sino win and get a trophy kill it before it gets away. And right after the big win, go out there and buy ya that big ol' Bass boat rig with all the Bud Lite branded cup holders you been longin' fur, or a new mossy oak camo 4 wheeler with matching HumV. Shucks, you done already paid yur taxes at the ca-sino-on-the-track and your 10% at God's house.
And in the mean time, keep screamin' bloody murder about keeping BIG GOV outa your - whatever - trash service and the like. No matter what - Git-er-done good buddy! Keep shootin' your own selves in the feet - it saves the lives of others and makes it much easier to police up your PP copper laminated lead for melt down or resale later. Lock and reload windmill chasers, it's dangerous up there where your daughters are going unprotected at college. BIG CORP wants you to gamble, they bet on you losing in fact! Maybe it should be, 'giv'r away good buddy", it's fun and patriotic. Vote for: "guns at the track casino". You never know when someone might steal from you!!

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