Hopes High For Local Economy As Columbus Casino Opens


Months, if not years, of planning have come down to the opening of a casino in central Ohio Monday.

The Hollywood Casino, located at 200 Georgesville Rd., officially opened to the public at noon.

As the casino's opening drew near, many business owners were reflecting on the past and thinking about the future.

"The area lost a lot. We took a big hit," said Tee Jaye's Restaurant employee Lenore Collins. "We lost a lot of good stores. We lost a lot of things, so I'm hoping with this, it'll be a trickle effect to the good again."

Many who live on the west side said that they have been waiting years for the opening of the casino, which was a $400 million investment.

"So far, so good," said resident Lenore Winfrey. "I think I may go home with a little more than I came with, which is always good."

Chris Haydocy, president and owner of Haydocy Buick GMC, said that he hopes the new casino will revamp the west side.

"It just changes everyone's view, everyone's perception of the west side, and with that, we will get more investments, get more jobs," Haydocy said. "It's a good day for the west side."

Many of the new employees of the casino used to work at the Delphi plant that used to sit on the ground on which the new casino was built.

Kevin Smith, a new dealer at the casino, is now a manager at the Hollywood Casino Columbus.

"I'm right back to the same spot I was, and it's totally different, it's a totally different ballgame, and I find myself standing here going 'Wow.' It's just such a big change. It really is. A change for the better, definitely."

Jill Drexel, 66, used to work at the Delphi plant as a journeymen millwright for 27 ½ years.

"It's exciting to start over," said Drexel, a new dealer. "I think that things are going to turn around on the west side, just my opinion."

The casino had some opponents.

"People are skeptical, a lot of religious people are concerned about prostitution, gambling and robbing and whatever else," West side resident Ashlie Calderone said. "Then there's people, they're really excited about gambling altogether."

Steven Yee, of the Ding Ho Cantonese Restaurant, is a third generation business owner. Yee said that he was excited to see thousands of new casino employees begin to work.

"Those people have jobs, hopefully they'll be buying homes, raise families," Yee said. "That's the key to the west side economy and in turn, our business increases, I hire more people and it's a trickle effect for the whole west side."

Casino representatives said that the gambling location has hired around 2,000 employees, 20 percent from the west side so far. As of opening day, 100 jobs remained.

More than 17,000 people visited the casino on Monday.

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