Hollywood Casino Toledo license approved, grand opening set for May 29

COLUMBUS, OH (Toledo News Now) - The Ohio Casino Control Commission gave permission for Penn National Gaming to receive an operator's license Wednesday, clearing the way for the casino hold its grand opening on May 29.

Although the grand opening is set for May 29, the casino will actually open its door for the first time on May 24 in what is known as a "soft open." The controlled open will serve as a test run for the operations.

"This means that we can actually really begin touting the date of May 24, for our test day where we'll invite about 6,500 patrons to come in, play, test our restaurants. All of those proceeds go to YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs. So it's just a great day for us," said Hollywood Casino General Manager Richard St. Jean.

The approval comes after Penn National transferred the $50 million licensing fee to the state of Ohio.

"Yesterday we wired to the state of Ohio the $50 million license fee that they now have. That was part of the amendment that was passed in November 2009. Per location, there's a $50 million license fee, and then on top of that, we're going to spend in excess of $250 million when we finish the Toledo Hollywood Casino, and we're going to be wrapped up there in the next couple of days," said Penn National President and CEO Tim Wilmott.

Pete Silverman of the Casino Commission said there were issues with Cleveland's casino that needed to be addressed, but there were no issues with Toledo's casino.

"With the Penn application, Penn got a clean report: solid financial, solid integrity people. So there really weren't any questions that we had for them," said Silverman.

With more than $250 million to be invested in the casino complex, Penn National has launched ad campaigns in the Detroit, Fort Wayne and Toledo markets in hopes of a strong regional draw.

"We think we are gonna take a fair amount of business from southern Michigan. We think we're gonna take some business out of the Fort Wayne market, as well as the entire Toledo-metro area going all the way east to Sandusky," said Wilmott.

Penn National will be bringing in experienced employees from other casinos to help the Toledo crew prepare for the grand opening.

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