By Steve Beauregard
It’s Ohio’s largest city, its state capitol, and home to 60,000 Buckeyes.
And it’s also home to a casino.
Columbus is home to the Hollywood Casino Columbus, a spacious, Las Vegas-style casino just 7 miles west of downtown.
In 2009, Ohio voters passed an amendment allowing four cities to have one casino each: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, and Columbus.
Columbus also has a racino, but we’ll cover that further down.
Hollywood Casino Columbus
Opened in the fall of 2012 for a reported $400 million dollars, Hollywood Casino is a modern, contemporary casino owned by Penn National Gaming.
While a contractor who built the site puts the entire building’s square footage at 285,000, reports put the actual casino floor space at 160,000 square feet. This makes the Hollywood Casino Columbus the biggest casino in Ohio, with more casino floor space than many of the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Hollywood Casino Columbus sits on a 44 acre site across from a now-abandoned mall. Hollywood’s site was formerly an auto parts manufacturing plant.
However you wouldn’t know it from the beautiful casino floor, which offers gamblers their choice from among 2,200 slot machines and video poker machines. These range from a penny to $100.
They even have stadium-style blackjack that’s becoming more common in Las Vegas.
(The black pin represents the Hollywood Casino Columbus, while the green pin marks the Eldorado Scioto Downs Racino)
From among the seventy table games, you’ll find blackjack, craps, craps-free craps, roulette, mini-baccarat, Fortune Pai Gow Poker, Crazy 4 Poker, Mississippi Stud, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
Hollywood Columbus has a progressive side bet costing a $1, and which is linked to several different table games together to build the jackpot higher, faster.
As for table minimums? They’re subject to change, but reportedly the minimums are $10 on weekdays, with some tables even higher on weekends. Blackjack games pay only 6/5 on blackjacks.
Poker at Hollywood Casino Columbus
Hollywood’s thirty-six table poker room spreads Texas Hold’em and Omaha variants. Limit hold’em games start at $4/8 on up to $30/$60, while the no-limit games range from your standard $1/2 to the not-so-standard $5/$25 no-limit with a $1,000 minimum buy-in.
Tournaments start at the $45 buy-in range on up and even include some turbo tournaments.
On the Omaha side, they have regular Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo Split at stakes ranging from $3/6 Omaha Hi-Lo to $5/10 Pot Limit.
The casino is non-smoking, and does not serve free alcoholic beverages, thanks to Ohio state legislators. They do, however have free self-service Coca-Cola products. You must also be 21 years or older to play here.
You’ll find five restaurants here, including the Epic Buffet, Final Cut Steak & Seafood, and the O.H. Sports bar.
The casinos H Lounge hosts live music, but mostly cover bands and up-and-comers, rather than any name-brand musicians you’d recognize.
There’s also 12,500 square feet of convention or meeting space. Hollywood Columbus does not have a hotel attached to the casino. Parking is free at both the numerous uncovered spaces out front, or in the casino’s four-story parking garage.
Address & Phone
Columbus, Ohio 43228
Eldorado Scioto Downs
Nine miles directly south of downtown Columbus on Highway 23 is the Eldorado Scioto Downs Racino.
The horse race track here opened in 1959, while the casino part of the racino opened in June of 2012. It was the first racino in Ohio. The 117,000 square foot racino cost over $150 million to build.
The harness racing track has live horse racing seasonally, beginning in May. However you can participate in simulcast wagering on races nationwide throughout the year.
When not hosting races, the race track has acted as a large outdoor concert venue.
Unlike Hollywood Columbus, does not have traditional Vegas-style slot machines.
Instead, they have 2,200 of the video lottery terminal machines, which resemble traditional slots, but which act more as a scratch off lottery ticket.
Some of these 2,200 VLTs are located in outdoor smoking patios, as Eldorado Scioto Downs is non-smoking inside.
Eldorado does not have any table games, nor does it have a poker room.
Eldorado Scioto Downs has four restaurants, including a buffet, and the Brew Brothers brew pub. An additional dining option is on the patio overlooking the race course during the racing season.
There is lots of free parking, a new 118 room Hampton Inn hotel has recently opened up, attached to the racino.
Address & Phone
6000 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43207
Other Casinos Near Columbus
Besides the Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway (72 miles away) in Dayton, there is Miami Valley Gaming 85 miles to the southwest. Both of these have VLT machines only.
After these two above, there are some casinos in Cincinnati. The main Vegas-style casino, the JACK Cincinnati Casino, is 106 miles from downtown Columbus.
(Photo courtesy of the Greater Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau)