Dating back to 1933, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is less than an hour’s drive from both Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C., and it welcomes more than 2.5 million visitors per year.
The race track
The Hollywood Casino offers one of the most complete horse racing calendars in the country with a total of 162 days of live racing on schedule for 2018. This includes the $1.2 million Charles Town Classic, one of 20 stakes races scheduled, which has handled as much as $4.8 million in action.
Other special racing days on the calendar are the Race for the Ribbon day run annually in September and the West Virginia Breeder’s Classics.
The wagering options for the live races vary based on the number of races on schedule, which ranges from an eight-race program up to a 13-race program. The wagering menu includes win/place/show, exactas, trifectas, superfectas, daily doubles, pick 3s, and $0.50 pick 4s (depending on which race you begin your bet).
In addition to the 162 live racing dates annually (running from January through December), the casino also offers a complete season of simulcast horse and dog racing across the country, 365 days a year – from Saratoga in New York to Del Mar in San Diego.
The live racing at Charles Town is typically a 7 p.m. start, but with the simulcast racing starting at 1 p.m. or sometimes earlier, a truly full year of racing is offered.
Other gaming options
The casino boasts a full spectrum of table games, including blackjack, roulette, craps, pai gow, and baccarat, as well as an 18-table poker room and more than 2,500 slot machines.
On September 1st, it also added the one ingredient still missing from its fully formed casino – a sportsbook. The newly opened sportsbook facility is run by William Hill US and accepts bets on football, basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball, golf, tennis, auto racing, rugby, cycling, boxing and MMA, and cricket.
Additionally, Hollywood Casino partnered with DraftKings Sportsbook for online sports betting. The popular mobile sports betting app launched on Aug. 28, 2019.
You can also participate in the full spectrum of wager types, including straight bets, parlays, match-ups, futures, props, and the increasingly popular in-play betting.
With 24 odds-displaying monitors and 50 feet of wall space dedicated to television viewing, the presence of William Hill, the largest operator of sports gaming in the United States, is clearly felt on site.
Other facility amenities
Hollywood Casino touts itself as so much more than just a casino or race track. As an entertainment destination, it features two bars – H Lounge and Skybox Sports Bar – and two award-winning restaurants, Final Cut Steakhouse and 9 Dragons.
It also has a 1,200-seat events center that hosts comedians like Jay Leno and Jeff Foxworthy and musical guests ranging from the Grammy-winning Clint Black to 1989 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Temptations.
Also just a short and free shuttle ride away is the 153-room The Inn at Charles Town, which features 18 suites overlooking the race track.
Promotions and rewards
The variety of nightly promotions offered by the casino changes each month. The current promotions include Ricochet Rewards, which guarantee a total of $25,000 of free slot plays offered on Wednesdays.
There is also the night of 1,000 winners when for each hour over a 10-hour stretch, 100 winners will receive $100 in slot play. The Lucky Table promotion offers a $10,000 grand prize, and the Hot Summer Dreamin’ promotion gives away a Jeep, a Camaro, and $20,000.
That last promotional night is only for members of Marquee Rewards, the free rewards card that provides benefits to 24 gaming locations across the country. Points are earned on money wagered at all video and table games, as well as any money spent on dining and retail.
The most basic of rewards are complimentary (comp) points that can be bundled to provide free plays. Higher-tiered rewards members can get discounts on rooms, parking, and event tickets, with prizes all the way up to airline ticket reimbursements and complimentary cruises.
The casino’s past and future
Gambling officially made its way to West Virginia in 1933, when the race track at Charles Town first opened its doors.
An up-and-down history involving a number of ownership changes over the years appeared to have finally taken its toll by the 1990s, when the track was on its last financial legs.
It regained its footing in 1996, when a vote allowed the track to install video lottery machines, which evolved into slot machines. A vote in 2009 led to the addition of table games and a poker room. Now, 85 years after it took the very first pari-mutuel bet in the state of West Virginia, the casino is leading the way for gaming in the region.
Due to its new partnership with William Hill, Penn National Gaming (the owners of Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races) seemed prime to launch an online and mobile version of its sportsbook in West Virginia. It’s what William Hill has done recently with its ventures in New Jersey, and it’s what it is best known for around the world.
What the final version of its online sportsbook looks like remains to be seen. What that will ultimately mean for the online gaming market in West Virginia and the region at large is also unknown.
Considering the hard charge into the market following the Supreme Court’s ruling in May, drastic changes are expected.