On Sunday, Russell, UJ, and I visited the Hollywood Casino, one of four casinos built in Ohio after the passage of a constitutional amendment in 2009. It’s far out on Columbus’ west side, off Broad Street, near the intersection of I-70 and I-270. We wanted to check out the place and watch one of the NFL playoff games.
My expectations were low; I’m not sure why. I envisioned a dim interior packed with slot machines and grim-faced people, but instead we found a vast, brightly lit space that risks putting patrons into sensory overload. Every slot machine, of course, has neon lights and colorful themes (how much do the artists who design the pirates, genies, and other characters on slot machines get paid, anyway?) but the decor itself was interesting, with attractive light fixtures far overhead, tall round pillars with changing video presentations, enormous TV screens everywhere you look, and huge movie billboards covering the walls.
We landed in o.h., one of four restaurants inside the casino, to eat and watch the first half of the 49ers-Falcons game. (o.h. is an apt name, because every true Buckeye will be tempted to add “i.o.” — and after a few hours gambling, they may be right.) It’s a great place to watch a game. There are dozens of large flat screen TVs circling the dining area tuned to every imaginable sporting event, including professional bowling. The bar next door features a much more immense main screen and would be a fine venue for a beer or two and some serious football viewing.
We tried the philly steak egg rolls and twisted nachos made over crinkle-cut potatoes, followed by a pepperoni pizza. All were tasty and served hot by very friendly wait staff. More surprising to me was that the prices were reasonable and in line with what you would expect to pay at a regular bar or restaurant.
After we ate our food and watched the first half of the game, Jim and Russell tried their hands at games of chance. I’m too cheap to be a gambler, so I strolled around taking in the table games areas, the high roller enclave, and the other parts of the casino. The place was crowded, and people seemed to be having a good time on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon. The casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ll see how it looks after a year or two of wear and tear, but for now it looks like the Hollywood casino is off to a profitable start.