A summer trip to Maine is a great vacation idea, whether it includes the inner most camping, hiking, and lakes, or the long coastline. I hope you read Part 1 yesterday when I reviewed the Hollywood Casino, Hotel, and Raceway. If not, go back and read it……we’ll wait……
(cue “Jeopardy Theme” music………)
Now it’s time to visit Maine’s newest casino – OXFORD CASINO
We stopped at Oxford on our way home. It is about 2 hours southwest of Bangor near Lewiston. There is no parking garage, but tons of outside parking. The front entrance is obviously very new and quite attractive.
CASINO – It is smaller than Hollywood, but they have packed lots of slots in – almost to the point of no space. And while Hollywood is open 8am to 3am, Oxford is open 24/7. Oxford is a non-smoking casino, with areas outside designated for smoking. One terrific idea was the self-service beverage area with coffee, soda and water. If you are thirsty, you can just get up and get something. Free drinks in both Maine casinos are non-alcoholic – alcoholic beverages must be bought and cannot be comped by law.
Table games include Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Mini-Baccarat, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud Poker, Let-It-Ride and recently added Pai Gow Poker. Minimums were about $5 – $10 and up on BJ, everything else $5.
They have just over 800 slots, packed together. In using the minimal space there is, this casino floor feels like a sardine can – and it was a Monday afternoon with no big promotions, it was filled with people! The previous year’s earnings and visitation proves its popularity, and has produced revenue beyond the expected numbers. To their credit, their slot inventory is very new, and very diverse. New slots such as “Family Guy,” “NASCAR,” and the latest Aristocrat, IGT and Williams machines highlight the slot inventory.
The video poker is not good. The only barely playable game is 8/5 DDB. Quarter players are stuck with 7/5 JOB and 6/5 Bonus with the same pay tables for $1 players. What is with Maine and their poor Video Poker? At least you can play VP at one of the bars, but you still have pay for your alcoholic beverages. NO comps for you!
THE REWARDS CLUB – redemption for play is $1 in equals 1 point; 500 points equals $1 of rewards. A great innovation as part of their rewards club called “The Loyalty Club” is the Club Partners, which include discounts for over 20 local businesses. More casinos should take this idea and develop it to connect with local businesses. (Mohegan Sun has spun it’s own variation of this idea in its Mass Casino license application in Palmer.)
DINING – 2 options. the Oxford Grill, open weekdays at 11:00, but on the weekend at 7:30 for breakfast; and the Oxford Express, open 24/7 featuring sandwiches, soups and pastries. We ate at the Oxford grill, which is away from the sounds of slots, and is a beautiful place for lunch and dinner – simple, modern decor with a relaxing feel. We both tried salads. My wife’s Summer salad came with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Grapes, Oranges, Red Onion, Candied Pecans, Feta Cheese which was not only beautiful to look at but delicious. My Asian Chicken Salad came with Grilled Chicken Breast, Fried Wontons, Sliced Almonds, Ginger Sesame Dressing which ended in a completely clean plate.( I guess I liked it) The serving size was good and the chicken in both was perfectly cooked with a little “char” taste. The Oxford Grill is a great place for a good meal, drinks, and a get away from the business in the casino.
CASINO SERVICE – Everyone was very friendly, but due to the amount of people and crammed rows of slots, the servers certainly have their work cut out for them. Again, Kudos for that beverage station idea!
It was a great trip, finally seeing what all the hub-bub was about in Maine’s newest casino. With all that parking space, my suggestion to Churchill Downs, the new owners of Oxford Casino, is:
- Build a parking garage to the far side of the casino
- Expand the casino on the side of the casino
- Continue building upon the success of the first year.
In previous posts I have outlined the phases of expansion already presented. Please check those out.
That’s all for now.