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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -
The Hollywood Casino Toledo is celebrating its first anniversary, along with positive feedback from the community.
Exactly one year ago, the much-anticipated gaming facility opened to the public in east Toledo. The casino is holding a special event to celebrate the milestone.
Earlier Wednesday, a party was held with a birthday cake and community leaders highlighting the impact of the casino opening in Toledo.
Casino leaders expected to welcome 2.8 million visitors during the first year. Instead, around 3.4 million people visited the casino, receiving around $41 million in jackpots.
According to the Ohio Casino Control Commission, adjusted gross revenue topped $181 million, which is money received minus winnings paid out. More than 95 million of that came by way of slot operations.
The casino went through 145,000 decks of cards and 20,000 dice.
After one year, the casino's workforce is now around 1,300 team members, with 90 percent hired locally.
General Manager Richard St. Jean says he couldn't be any happier with the way the first year went.
"We're absolutely thrilled with the visitation. You know, we had a good sense and a good forecast. But I think as the reputation grew, and the food product and the quality of service - I think all those things combined just enticed more people to come to our casino and drive visitation to northwest Ohio," said St. Jean.
During the first year, Hollywood Casino generated $59.8 million in gaming tax revenue, giving a cut of $4.3 million to the city of Toledo and $1.6 million to Lucas County. St. Jean says their survey shows 44 percent of rated patrons came from outside the state of Ohio.
The general manager says the first year was just the beginning, and expects business to increase between 10 and 15 percent over the second year.
So what are people living near the casino saying about their new neighbor?
Some say the casino has been a good neighbor and they believe their area is safer because of it.
Marv Sondergeld lives right across the street from Hollywood Casino. While he admits he's never been inside, he says he's glad it's there and has no problems with it.
"At first there was a lot of concern that it was going to be a lot of headache to us, a lot of noise, a lot of traffic," said Sondergeld. "It hasn't amounted to anything. The casino has been extremely cooperative with anything we've asked, talked about, asked them about."
Another east Toledoan, Ron Villareal, says with more police presence in the area, he feels his neighborhood is now safer.
"It has to, because they're up and down the street all the time, not on the side streets, but Miami Street. You can't miss them," said Villareal. "No problems. It's kind of pleasant around here."
That safety sentiment is shared by mayor of Rossford, Neil MacKinnon.
"There's been no increase in crime. Actually, Hollywood Casino Toledo with their donations, their support of our safety services, has made the city of Rossford safer," explained MacKinnon.
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell says the casino's first year has proved how Toledoans often fear the worst, but get the best.
"All the naysayers that were saying all these bad things were going to happen, they've been absolutely wrong. This has been nothing but a positive experience for Toledo and northwest Ohio," said Bell.