“Very rich, very welcoming, very warm,” St. Jean said.
The casinos’ official address is even 777 Hollywood Boulevard.
Columns of mesmerizing blue lights shined from floor to ceiling. Casino officials explained the displays will be encased in smoked glass. A Marilyn Monroe mural adorned another wall.
Other 21st-century technology has yet to be installed. What St. Jean said “will really give the property some pop” is the electronics-- $10 million dollars’ worth of audio and video, from giant video boards to plasma-screen TV’s.
“There will be some Hollywood branding throughout,” said St. Jean. “We have some studio relationships, so as there are new movie releases, we'll have some billboards in the casino, you'll see it carried out on the felt of the table games."
There will be 2,000 slot machines with the capacity to add 1,000 more if the demand is there. There also will be 60 table games, including blackjack, roulette, and craps. The casino will offer an additional 20 live poker tables, most of them in a separate room.
"This will feel like a Vegas casino," said St. Jean.
But casino managers also emphasize there are entertainment options for the entire family, including a sea food restaurant, a steakhouse, a high-end buffet, and a burger joint on the premises. There also will be live entertainment on stage seven days each week.
30,000 people applied to work there. Only 1,200 will be hired, 90 percent of them local hires—and all of them non-smokers. It will be a health-conscious casino, complete with an employee exercise room downstairs. But those employees also get a work-out from opening day forward: keeping an estimated 2.8 million annual visitors entertained in a casino that boasts 125,000 square feet of floor space.
“It’s a spectacular level of interest, so we’re able to be very picky in whom we choose,” St. Jean admitted.
There have been three recent casino-related job fairs: one in Toledo, a second in Bowling Green, and the latest one Monday at Owens Community College. Auditions are being held for blackjack and poker dealers, as well as craps and roulette table operators. Once hired, casino managers will spend the next few weeks training new employees.
Casino managers stated security on the premises will be high-priority. Dozens of surveillance cameras will observe the casino floor from an off-limits room in the basement. In addition to security personnel keeping an eye on the cameras, there will be floor security, as well as police investigators from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI).
The casinos in Toledo and Cleveland are expected to be the first ones to open in Ohio. Gambling facilities in Columbus and Cincinnati will follow months down the road. That presents an opportunity for Toledo’s Hollywood Casino to attract serious gamblers, as well as the curious from a larger region, at least initially. Casino managers hope to learn a potential opening date by the end of the month.
“I just think there’s a lot of due diligence that has to be done and a lot of rules that have to be written,” said St. Jean of the situation with the Ohio Control Commission. “We’re just hoping it’s a matter of weeks and not a matter of months, as far as the delay is concerned.”
Casino executives had hoped to open by April 1. Realistically, that date could now be pushed back as far as June.
The casino and an adjacent parking garage have created more than 2,100 construction jobs in the community. One of those workers is Derek Hoen, who was helping with some finish work on a couple of elegant pillars. Hoen stated he can’t wait to return to the finished casino with friends.
“I’ll be feeling very proud about all the work that we’ve done and just being part of this big of a project,” he said, emphasizing he’ll show off his handiwork. “Oh, definitely, definitely-- I’ll point out things I’ve worked on and things I was a part of. It’s going to be fun, going to be interesting.”