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Bet limits raised on slots at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

Gamblers can now take a chance on a $100 machine that offers jackpots of $100,000 or more

October 22, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
By Chad Trovinger, Graphic Artist

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — For years, gamblers at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races were limited to $5 for each spin of a slot machine.

But, in July, the West Virginia Lottery Commission gave the casino permission to increase the maximum bet per spin to $100.

"With the ability to now bet $5, $10, $25 and $100 a spin, the Slot City area of the gaming floor just got hotter," casino General Manager Al Britton said in a statement. "Now, guests will have the opportunity to wager more per spin on the newest multi-coin machines featuring themes such as Double Diamond Deluxe and Poseidon."

Before July, the casino's slot machines were limited to accepting nothing higher than a $20 bill. The new limit is $100.

These "high rollers," as they are called, can spin $100 machines that offer $100,000 jackpots or more. They probably won't be playing the penny machines on the casino's gambling floor, which covers more than 200,000 square feet.

Because of proprietary reasons, Britton declined to say how much an average high roller spends at Charles Town. He did say about 10 percent of those who gamble at casinos are high rollers.

"They're the high-end players," he said.

The casino won't be adding more slot machines because of the new rules, he said. A number of the casino's nearly 5,000 machines will be reconfigured to accept the higher limits, he said.

Britton believes West Virginia was the only state to limit slot machine spins to $5. The $5 machines can pay jackpots as high as $25,000 or more, he said.

He said an average player at Charles Town spends about $100 a visit.

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Britton said the change to higher spin limits was needed at Charles Town to keep the casino competitive with newly opening casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The casino has a payroll of more than 2,000 employees, about 800 of whom were hired for the introduction of table games in July 2010. Additional amenities added since then are the high-end Prime Cut Steakhouse, the Skybox Sports Bar and the H Lounge.

Asked if any more expansions were planned, Britton said: "We're where we're going to be for the near term until we see where the economy goes and the competition from Maryland."

Since it opened in 1997, Penn National Gaming, parent company of Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, has spent more than $300 million, mostly on new construction, according to information provided by Hollywood Casino.

It has paid $1 billion in taxes to the sate of West Virginia and $28 million to Jefferson County and its five municipalities, according to the information.

In 2010, taxes from the 4,933 slot machines came to $232 million, according to casino officials.

Last year, more than 3.9 million people visited the casino.

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