COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- It has been one year since Hollywood Casino Columbus opened its doors. Since then nearly $2 billion worth of wagers have been placed with more than $50 million in winnings. 3.7 million people have visited since the casino opened, an average of just over 10,000 per day.
"People love playing blackjack, roulette, more Asian games are being played here than expected," said Ameet Patel, the casino's general manager.
He says interest in slot machines hasn't been as high as expected. They have also discovered that most players don't bother with low denomination machines like penny and nickel slots.
"If they play slots they play quarters, they play dollars," he said.
Patel says food is a big part of the draw for the casino. In the first year they've gone through 28 tons of potatoes, 88,800 burgers, 95,000 pounds of chicken, 100,000 pounds of French fries, and 21,000 gallons of pop.
Hollywood Casino was the third of four casinos to open in Ohio. To date it has generated more than $71 million in taxes to the state. The casino has also donated more than a million dollars to charity.
Patel says the return on investment during the first year of operation has been about 20 percent.
Now that they have the first year behind them, Patel expects the focus to turn toward expansion and what can be done to attract even more people to the casino. A hotel could be part of those plans.
"It's as simple as listening to your customers in year one and then developing the plan to say 'here's what we'll do' because that will bring our customers back and more customers into the property," he said.
Right now there are anywhere from 1,200 to 1,300 employees working at the casino. Most are full-time. That's down from a high of 1,800 employees. Patel says they've constantly been adjusting their workforce to meet demand. Turnover in the first year of operation has been around 30 percent.
"People here have to get used to working late nights, evenings, weekends, during the Buckeye game. That's where the turnover comes in," he said.
The west side of Columbus is starting to see some revitalization from the casino. Road construction is underway on Broad Street and I-270. Part of the project is adding streetscapes and upgrading infrastructure.