AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Gambling Control Board on Tuesday unanimously approved the state’s first full-fledged casino in Bangor.
The board approved both a gaming license for Hollywood Slots Hotel and Raceway and a name change for what will now be known as Hollywood Casino Bangor.
“Our official opening date is March 16,” said John Osborne, vice president and general manager of Hollywood Casino Bangor. “We’ve hired about 60 of the 89 people we need and have only a handful of positions left to fill.”
Of those 60, Osborne said 48 are dealers. The other 12 are supervisors, also called pit bosses, and casino shift managers. The remaining 29 jobs will be in the form of beverage services, security, surveillance, cashiers, housekeeping and money counters.
The board’s vote was 4-0, with one member — Harry Stickney — absent. Tuesday’s meeting marked the first official voting action taken by new board member Barbara Dresser, a lawyer who is also a member of the Maine State Harness Racing Commission.
“We also licensed Gaming Products International as a table games distributor, and we’re in the process of licensing all their new gaming employees,” said Patrick Fleming, executive director of the gambling control board.
Fleming said that before Tuesday, no one was licensed to sell poker chips, cards or other table game supplies in Maine.
The board also approved a charity fundraiser using the casino’s new gambling area featuring 14 tables — one roulette wheel, six blackjack tables, one four-card and two three-card poker tables, and four poker tables. The tables will be used principally for Texas Hold’em, but also can be used to play Omaha or either five- or seven-card stud at the customers’ request.
“We’re still talking to a local charity to line up the details, but the way it would be done is the charity’s employees would come here and and have cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and play the games using ‘play’ chips we call value chips before we open to the public,” Osborne said.
The event will offer employees a chance to practice and get a feel for their jobs during a “soft opening” as well as raise funds for the local charity.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest about this,” Osborne said, referring to the games. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm and people are very eager for us to open the table games.”
That interest level has prompted casino executives to expand operating hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to a 3 a.m. closing time starting March 1. The casino still will open at 8 a.m. every day.
“Everything has been ordered and we’ll begin accepting delivery of table games and equipment the end of this month and start of March,” Osborne said. “It will take us three days to convert the casino floor and move slots from the space.”
The table games will be located near the Epic Buffet and the Bangor harness racing simulcast and off-track betting area.
Casino customers will be given guides detailing the rules and descriptions of the games. Rules also will be clearly posted on interior signs.
As far as the name change goes, it will involve both an immediate and gradual approach.
“Our advertising will be changed immediately with our new logo and name,” Osborne said. “You’ll see the signage on the property and other material change be phased in over the next few weeks, and we’ll use up whatever can be used up with the old name and logo on them, like napkins or cups, and then replace it with the new stuff.”
Before voting on the license application, gambling board members reviewed a full background investigation on Hollywood Slots and all principal Hollywood Slots and parent company Penn National executives. They also saw a PowerPoint presentation by Hollywood Slots, which just was relicensed by the state in August as a slots facility.
Hollywood Slots has been in operation in Bangor since November 2005.
“Penn National and Hollywood Slots have been working in the state now since November 2005 and we’re impressed not only with their business model, but also the partnering they’ve done in the community,” said Fleming.