Hollywood Casino York Shooting For Early August Opening, Boosting Hiring Efforts

Written By Kevin Shelly on June 17, 2021

Hollywood Casino York is less than eight weeks from “lights, camera, action.” But the mini-casino is still seeking a few good men and women.

During Wednesday’s monthly Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board meeting, representatives for Hollywood Casino York petitioned for and received approval to offer table games. During the hearing, reps reviewed the mini-casino’s construction progress, hiring difficulties, and, as PlayPennsylvania reported yesterday, plans to expand.

Hollywood Casino York shooting for August opening

Ruben Warren, General Manager of Hollywood Casino York, told the PGCB during the hearing that they planned to open in early August. He said Hollywood Casino York’s debut was “a little less than eight weeks” away without pinpointing an exact debut day.

Hollywood Casino York plans for the (currently) 80,000 sq. ft facility include:

Image c/o Hollywood Casino York.

Table games are set to arrive on June 22. Slot installation should be complete by the end of June, said Warren. COVID-19 concerns caused a slight reconfiguration of the gaming floor.

Hollywood Casino York will be the home of the first Barstool Sportsbook on the East Coast. The walls of the sportsbook are made with reclaimed basketball courts. The floor of the sportsbook is styled like a football field.

Hollywood Casino York seeking employees

Hollywood Casino’s York early August opening gives it a tight timeline to fill staffing needs.

Warren told members of the PGCB that the facility is struggling to recruit enough employees. It’s especially been the case with finding potential employees and then training them as gaming dealers, 

PGCB Chairman David Barasch commented:

“My concern is having adequate staffing and having experienced staffing. If you open with a bunch of rookies who may not be up to task…better to not open than open poorly.”

Warren said:

“Our goal is to open the property and make sure the dealers we have get the experience on the casino floor in order to operate the right way for our customers and regulators. We fully expect to open the property with all table games in operation.”

Hollywood CasinoYork adds incentives to land employees

The goal is opening Hollywood Casino York with 320 total employees, with 105 of those table dealers, Warren testified.

The PGCB approved the addition of table games. The right to offer slots at the rehabbed casino space attached to the York Galleria Mall in Springettsbury Township came with the mini-casino license.

So far, just 60 new hires are getting free training, said Warren. Twenty current dealers from Penn National’s mothership casino, Hollywood Casino, 50 miles away in Grantville, are transferring to York, he added.

That leaves the casino short at least 45 potential dealers.

“Dealer schools traditionally are subject to large attrition. I know from having covered Atlantic City. As a safeguard against those who drop out or washout,” said Warren. The training school, which is in the mall and close to the casino, will remain open for one to two months after the casino opens.

The dealers-in-training will spend some time working on the floor at the Grantville casino, watched by seasoned dealers.

Hollywood Casino York is holding hiring fairs, offering a $1,500 sign-on bonus, and may offer paid training. They will give away a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle to a lucky hire who remains at work until the holidays, Warren explained. Harleys are made in York.

Hollywood York eyes expansion even before opening

Potentially compounding the hiring issue for the first-level casino space, Warren broke Penn National Gaming’s silence about negotiations for the lease of additional space above on the second level of the struggling mall.

PlayPennsylvania previously broke the news about adding a second floor despite stonewalling by York’s parent company, Penn National Gaming, and their real estate representative, Bryan Cole, who has an office adjacent to Penn’s Wyomissing, PA headquarters.

Hollywood York already has a small presence on the second floor of the mall. Elevators and an escalator are planned there already.

The company spent slightly more than $50 million on the York site, the costliest bid for a mini-casino. Maximizing their footprint makes sense with that investment.

Hollywood Casino York will be the second mini-casino in PA. The first, Live! Casino Pittsburgh, opened late last year. Three more are planned, including a sister casino, Hollywood Casino Morgantown.

Hollywood York silent on details of the expansion

Warren declined to say what the plans are for the mall’s second level if the lease goes through. The PGCB did not press him. PGCB approval is not needed for amenities such as restaurants or entertainment on the second floor unless the expansion includes some form of gambling.

Penn spokesman Eric Schippers and Cole again did not respond to requests for comment. A call seeking comment to the casino’s lawyer for the hearing, Adrian King, went unreturned.

Penn National Gaming fined by PA Gaming Board

Penn National otherwise had a bad day before the board. They were hit with fines and fees of $124,500.

Hollywood Casino in Grantville got slapped with $72,000 in fines and fees for allowing a drunk patron who was already on the self-exclusion list to gamble for hours. She then crashed her vehicle into five parked cars and drove on Interstate-80. The intoxicated woman did not realize she was driving on just three wheels, due to hitting cars in the casino’s parking lot.

The PGCB also fined Hollywood Casino an additional $52,500. Two former employees, a buyer and a director of facilities, both since fired, fraudulently structured payments to hide payments to two unlicensed vendors.

Lead image c/o Hollywood Casino York.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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