we just got an impressive new Hollywood Casino in central Ohio. On the advice of friends, my spouse, another friend and I visited Hollywood Indiana in Lawrenceburg, Indiana over a "Riverboat Casino" weekend. We were told that we'd love the conversion of the old Argosy casino to Hollywood. Honestly, our overall impression was so-so. There were things we liked and things we didn't.
This has been completely raised off the river and renovated with only the tall stacks (we assume) kept from the old boat. If you didn't have to traverse an incredibly long hallway to get to the gaming floor and if they didn't "blow the boat whistle" once in awhile, you would never know it had ever been a boat.
The casino is laid out on two levels. The main level has a bar area that's open to the gaming floor and a snack bar area that's the same. The poker "room" exists behind only a railing. It's open to the gaming floor as well so it's not very quiet for poker.
The games run the gamut from old reel games off the former Argosy to newer more electronic versions but, quite frankly, even the newest games there didn't include the real high end, very popular games that are available at the Hollywood Casino and even at the much smaller Racino in our area. We saw very few full video and interactive, multi-layered games.
Indiana law still allows smoking inside casinos even though it's not allowed in other public areas. They're decently ventilated in Lawrenceburg but, when the casino was full late on Sunday afternoon, it was awfully smokey on the main level. Many, many machines were covered in ash even though we saw staff moving around with spray bottles of cleaning chemicals and rags trying to stay ahead of it.
The lower, much smaller gaming floor is divided about 3/4 non smoking and one quarter smoking. There is no smoke smell at all in the non-smoking area. We were to become upset though because we were there on a big promotional day and a waitress on that floor lied and told us we'd be able to hear all casino announcements down there. When we didn't hear announcements one hour and only heard them the next hour as we headed up the escalator to the main gaming floor, we knew we'd been played. A floor staffer confirmed for us that announcements aren't heard on the lower floor. What happens if there's a fire or another reason to vacate the casino? The staffer did point out that there is a video board down there that announce things but then she went on to tell us it can only be seen by going into the smoking area. That area comprises about 1/4 of the lower floor. We were not impressed by casino operations.
The slots seemed quite tight unless we were max betting. We had few wins over a few dollars for betting all lines on a slot at the minimum bet ($.20, .25, .30, .40 and .50) like we see elsewhere. I also played a lot of video poker at perfect strategy and came away with no wins...nothing better than 3 of a kind betting the minimum per hand. We did have some decent luck at video blackjack which is offered for $5 and $10 per hand minimum but that's a considerably higher bet than ANY slot that we played even at max bet.
We enjoyed the buffet in a completely smoke free dining room. Though it was not the best we've ever had, it wasn't bad either. As it was Sunday brunch, it was a bit pricey at nearly $20.00 a person with tax but one in our party ate free on a buy one get one free deal she got for being a new member of the Hollywood slot club so we didn't do bad at just over $40 for 3 people.
If you're impervious to cigarette smoke and you can't get to a big casino anywhere else, this one will suit you well. If you need to be in a non-smoking environment, consider making the drive to central Ohio where you'll have two great casinos to choose from or wait until the Horseshoe Casino opens in Cincinnati in the Spring of 2013.
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