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Charles Town will still have horses for this ole' country boy

April 21, 2010|By TIM ROWLAND

So it seems that a little slice of Hollywood is coming to the Tri-State Area.

Dibs on Sandra Bullock.

But no, it doesn't involve movies, it involves the new name for Charles Town Races & Slots, which will now be known forevermore as "Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races."

At 11 syllables, it beats Oriole Park at Camden Yards rather handily.

I love a good rebranding, and it's also touching that they continue to cling to the horse-racing reference somewhere in the title -- even as its mission statement recedes further and further from the Sport of Kings.

Starting in July, patrons will indeed be treated to the sport of kings (and jacks, queens and aces) as the casino opens a full complement of table games, including "poker, roulette, craps, blackjack, mini baccarat and Pai Gow poker."

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I admit, they lost me after blackjack. As a gambling illiterate, I would have assumed Pai Gow poker was something you'd find on the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at the Hung Chow family restaurant.

But I'm happy for the success of the casino and happy that it has kept horse racing in business. I went there once or twice until it became apparent that all those stories you heard about casinos attracting drugs and prostitutes were not true. So obviously, I lost interest in the place.

The "Hollywood" designation is interesting to me because I remember that way back when, the company did not even want to be associated with the word "slots."

The matter was up for a vote, and apparently "slots" conjured up all manner of unholy images including -- and this one might surprise you -- gambling. The track insisted at the time that it was going to install "video lottery," not slot machines, and that people wouldn't gamble, they would "play."

The whole thing sounded more like an Amish farmers market than what would turn into a major mid-Atlantic casino.

We reporters would get chewed out by management if we used the word "slots" in our stories -- but about a week after the vote allowing video lottery, two large billboards went up on Interstate 81 advertising "Slots! Slots! Slots!"

Maybe "Video Lottery! Video Lottery! Video Lottery!" wouldn't fit.

According to MarketWatch, the casino is getting a major renovation "to bring the classic style and glamour of 1930s art deco Hollywood to the Charles Town gaming floor along with the latest technology and amenities designed for ultimate guest comfort."

The Depression meets the iPad. I like it.

But, reading further, it sounds like --well, to quote: "Guests will be immersed in the Hollywood atmosphere the minute they walk in the door. A giant serpentine video wall projecting first-run movie trailers and video shorts will greet players ... Flat panel video screens and video trees will be added throughout the casino so that guests can enjoy entertainment programming and sporting events while they play. A noodle bar is being added to the mix of offerings in the casino food court and future plans call for the addition of a Final Cut Steakhouse."

I am a simple, country man who is easily overstimulated, so I don't know that I would handle all this chaos well. Still, I might have to go there this summer to check it out.

I'll be the one face down in the noodle bar.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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