MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (KMOX) – When the doors opened at 9 am Friday morning, hundreds of people were waiting to flood the gaming floor of the new Hollywood Casino St. Louis, formerly the Harrah’s in Maryland Heights.
But the very first person in line was Judith Finney of Chesterfield.
“(Gaming) gets my mind off my problems,” Finney explained about her excitement for getting right to the slots, her favorite. “I just allow so much money every month and if I win I can come more often, and if I don’t win they don’t see me that week.”
Hollywood vice presidnet of marketing Marc DeLeo hopes Finney and many others like her keep coming out to the casino, which is located near the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.
“I think this market is a very mature market,” he said. “I think the customers are very comfortable here. It’s definitely an entertainment here and they understand that.”
Hollywood is retaining 1,250 jobs at the casino and adding more than 85 new positions including dealers and environmental services, food and beverage, security and 35 management positions previously based in regional headquarters outside the St. Louis market under the former owners.
The casino boasts 2,100 slot machines and more than 70 table games.
More than that, according to Maryland Heights mayor Mike Moeller, Hollywood Casino is providing critical tax revenue toward his city’s economic well-being.
“This year we budgeted about 12-and-a-half to 13 million dollars in revenue from this casino,” Moeller explained.
He said that represents between one-quarter to one-third of the annual budget for Maryland Heights, money that can be used for capital improvement projects.
Hollywood Casino is now open for business but is still undergoing a $61 million renovation that will be completed some time next year.
In May of this year Harrah’s was sold to Penn National Gaming for $610 million.