Local non-profits win big at casino grand opening
Thousands of visitors attended the grand opening of Hollywood Casino on Oct. 8, but the big winners were the five organizations that left with almost $500,000 in donations.
According to Tim Wilmott, president of Penn National Gaming, a partnership between the casino and the city of Columbus will result in another $5 million in charitable donations over the next three years.
“We have an obligation to be good neighbors,” Wilmott said.
Last month, the casino announced the benefactors of its Oct. 3 demonstration day would be the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Salvation Army Columbus, Hilltop YMCA, Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone (GHASZ) and the West Broad Street Center of the Buckeye Ranch.
According to Ameet Patel, general manager of Hollywood Casino, the demonstration day exceeded all expectations. Approximately 16,000 guests were in attendance.
The Salvation Army, Hilltop YMCA, Shalom Zone and Buckeye Ranch each received a donation of $62,000. The Mid-Ohio Foodbank were gifted with a check for $165,000.
“From our first meeting eight months ago to today, Ameet Patel and his team have made good on their promise to build both a casino and a community,” said Andrew Roberts, president of YMCA of Central Ohio.
The United Way of Central Ohio also received a donation of $55,000 from a partnership between Hollywood Casino and Smoot Construction.
Patel said the opening of Hollywood Casino marks the combined goals of local officials, residents and business leaders to spark a rebirth of the Westside.
The grand opening kicked off with celebrity guests Archie Griffin, Ann-Margret and Buster Douglas who also appeared with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the demonstration day.
“I can tell you there are 2,000 employees ready to open the door to the public and they are full of excitement and energy,” said Griffin, who added he is excited to watch the casino’s impact on the Westside.
Ann-Margret said she is excited to return to Columbus, a city where she has performed in the past. She was also announced the Bob Mackie dress she wore while performing, “Hold Me,” is being displayed at the Final Cut Steakhouse.
Casino visitors will see the designer dress showcased next to attires worn by Cher and Diana Ross.
Final Cut is one of four food options at Hollywood Casino, also including Epic Buffet and Take 2 Grill. The casino also features 100 table games, 3,000 slot machines and an event center.
“This is a great facility, it’s great to be a part of it,” Douglas said.
For information, visit www.hollywoodcolumbus.com.