Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 30 May 2013 10:14
TOLEDO - The party has been going on at the Hollywood Casino for a year now.
Far be it for the casino's General Manager Richard St. Jean to interrupt it for Wednesday's press conference called to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the Penn National Gaming casino. The casino sits on the southern bank of the Maumee in Toledo, just a few feet from the Rossford border.
"I hear those slot machines in the background," St. Jean said. "That is making us very, very happy. I'm not going to make them stop."
Those slots and the casino's other amenities attracted more than 3.4 million people and paid out $41.5 million in jackpots. The casino generated $59.6 million in gaming tax revenues. Through April the Ohio Casino Control Commission shows the Hollywood Casino in Toledo brought in $181.2 million in gaming revenues.
St. Jean noted 44 percent of those visitors came from out of state, some from as far away as Alaska.
Want to talk about a party? The casino served up 36,000 gallons of beer, 57,600 burgers, 102,000 pounds of chicken and 23,000 pounds of prime rib.
All that has meant business for local firms. That includes Kellermeyer in Bowling Green. Jill Kegler, the company's president and CEO, said her company provided the 1,662 miles of toilet paper the casino used in its first year of operation.
The business is certified as a Woman Operated Business, but neither that nor being local assured the company would land the contract. "We still had to fight for it."
Kurt Amstutz, a fifth generation owner of Tank's Meats in Elmore, said the company has been willing to help local businesses out while still holding them to the highest standards. The casino trade turned out to be "beyond our expectations."
St. Jean said that the company's employees also patronize downtown Rossford. "I hear that Moe's in downtown Rossford has become one of our team members' favorites."
Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III echoed that: "I don't think you can go into a business in downtown Rossford and not see a Hollywood Casino team member."
The performance of the casino has "exceeded estimates."
St. Jean said the 1,300 employees, 90 percent of whom are from Northwest Ohio, have stepped up.
"We know for a fact that our team members are providing exemplary service," he said. ""It's something we take a lot of pride in."
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell credited a rebound in the Toledo economy including the elimination the city's budget deficit and a drop in the unemployment rate in part to the opening of the casino
"It seems like you've been here a long time," Bell said, "because you've made so many friends."
MacKinnon said that before the casino was built some people warned about an increase in crime. "Let me tell you, Hollywood Casino has made the City of Rossford safer."
Penn National Gaming, which operated the casino, has purchased a canine unit for the city and donated $200,000 to help with public safety costs.
Stephanie Cihon, vice president of community relations and advocacy for ProMedica, touted the casino's help in pioneering a new program through which unserved food is repackaged and sent to food kitchens.
Recently for a whole week all the meals served at the Cherry Street Mission in Toledo came from the casino.
ProMedica, Cihon said, is working to expand the program to include other area businesses and institutions.