Casino bus industry's future unclear

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Every day charter buses hit the road taking people from the Toledo area to various casinos in Detroit and Windsor. The big question: Will that industry take a hit once Hollywood Casino Toledo opens?

At 9 a.m. Alice Kusner and her friends board a Lakefront bus headed for the border.

"I'm going to Windsor. We do it once a month," said Kusner.

Diane Best agreed.

"Where ya gonna go for $9 with a car and tolls and everything? It's a lot cheaper," said Best.

Here is what Lakefront charges for these trips:

  • $9 to go from Toledo to Caesars in Windsor.
  • $18 to go to Greektown in Detroit.

However, each person gets a cash incentive from the casino just for going there by bus. Greektown's premium is $18. Caesars is $30. So the trip pays for itself.

It is still uncertain if Hollywood Casino will offer any premiums.

"If you don't get perks, what's the point of going, you know? You gotta have perks. You gotta have incentives to bring people in," said Best.

As Toledo's casino prepares to open, Lakefront is facing reality.

"Do we expect to take an immediate hit? Probably," said Paul Grant, who manages Lakefront Lines Group Tours.

According to Grant, there are about 40 people on either bus on any given day. Grant said many of the regulars go just to get away for the day and meet new people.

"There's a socialibility to this that getting in a car and parking in a garage isn't going to bring," explained Grant.

Still, if business does drop Grant said Lakefront will make cuts to the number of trips headed north.

Kusner said she will give Toledo's casino a shot, but Windsor will ultimately win her heart.

"It's just very nice in there and we got used to it, you know? You get used to a place. And I won some money there," said Kusner.

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