3rd Ohio casino opens in Columbus

COLUMBUS — The $400 million Hollywood Casino Columbus opened today in Ohio’s capital, welcoming hundreds of people who had waited on a chilly morning to be among the first placing bets at the table games and about 3,000 slot machines.

It’s the third and largest of Ohio’s four voter-approved casinos. It also is the one that will have the most direct competition initially, as it sits about 10 miles from Scioto Downs, the first Ohio horse racing track to get slots-like gambling machines.

Guests who lined up outside cheered and clapped as they stepped into the 475,000-square-foot facility after an invitation-only opening ceremony that included Mayor Michael Coleman, Ohio State football great Archie Griffin, champion boxer James “Buster” Douglas and actress Ann-Margret.

Some people made a beeline to the blackjack tables, while others stopped to pose with casino employees dressed as showgirls in skimpy, sparkling outfits and feathered headdresses.

Jerry Franklin, a self-employed Columbus resident, grabbed a seat at a slot machine. He confessed he isn’t typically a big gambler but said he’d taken the day off from his blacktop business to celebrate turning 56.

“Hopefully I’ll have some luck,” he said with a smile. “It being my birthday, I figured I’d give it a shot.”

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