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Table games ready to debut at Charles Town casino

June 30, 2010
  • The facility long known as Charles Town Races & Slots is now the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
Penn National Gaming Inc.,

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. --Craps, roulette and other casino games are expected to be available for play Thursday evening at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, but poker might not be played until Friday, General Manager Al Britton said Wednesday morning.

Barring any glitches, Britton hopes to have 12 to 20 table games, excluding poker tables, ready for a "soft opening" from 6 to 8 tonight.

By Friday evening, the Jefferson County casino and racetrack hopes to have six poker tables and even more games open for play in the main valet entrance area, Britton said.

While all of the tables are expected to be in place by 8 a.m. today, inspections by West Virginia Lottery officials must be completed before the new games can be open for play, and Britton said security issues and auditing processes have to be reviewed.

If state regulators approve, the casino and racetrack plans to phase in more tables until all 112, including a 27-game poker room are open, Britton said.

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"We welcome strict regulation," Britton said.

Britton said the goal is to have the entire table-game operation open by July 9, but the casino and racetrack also wants to have the public's confidence that the new games will be operated in full compliance with state rules.

Shortly after midnight Wednesday, Britton was expected to present a $1.5 million check to Lottery Director John C. Musgrave for a table games license. Casino and racetrack owner Penn National Gaming Inc. could not purchase a license until the beginning of the state's fiscal year, which is today.

The license must be in hand before the table games can be shipped into West Virginia and Britton said trucks carrying them will be staged in Maryland across the state line until they are notified to proceed.

Britton expected the first trucks to arrive at the casino and racetrack at about 12:30 a.m. today.

The games they first plan to have open for play were loaded at the back of the truck, Britton said. Most of the games were being shipped fully assembled, Britton said.

With the arrival of table games, the gaming and live racing attraction's name changes to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races from Charles Town Races & Slots.

The new games join 5,000 slot machines at the casino and racetrack. The thoroughbred racetrack opened in 1933.

With the gaming expansion, whole sections of the gaming floor are being transformed into a faux classic style and glamour look of 1930s art deco Hollywood. Britton said work on decor was still under way Wednesday.

Even with state licensing rules, casino and racetrack officials decided to move forward with the planned phase opening of the table games because of the holiday weekend and because of public interest, Britton said.

"There's a lot of pent-up demand," Britton said.

Jefferson County voters approved the addition of table games in a 2009 referendum. Voters approved the addition of video lottery machines in 1996, and state lawmakers allowed slot machines at Charles Town in 1999.

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