Maine Casino Trip Report Part 2 – Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway

Today, part 2, as we drive to the furthest northeast casino withing the US borders.  Today, we REPORT OUR visit to Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, ME.

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway, Bangor Maine

Hollywood Casino, Bangor, Maine

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway – Some Background

It was the first licensed slots facility in the state, and became the first casino to be licensed in the state of Maine when it added table games to its facilities in 2012.  However, it was the third New England casino to offer Vegas style slots in 2005, after Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun in CT. Twin River, at the old Lincoln Greyhound Park in RI, did not introduce Vegas style slots, or class III, until 2007.

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway, Bangor Maine

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway, Bangor Maine

This facility has everything – it’s just that it’s a little bit of everything.  It is the smallest casino in New England inches behind the other Maine casino in Oxford, Maine.  It does draw from patrons from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Canada & of course Maine. This was our 5th trip to the Bangor casino.  Only two hours away from Oxford Hotel Casino

We first drove to our hotel, the Bangor Inn.  Unfortunately, we were unable to stay at the Hollywood Hotel. Our suggestion is do not stay at Bangor Inn, unless you want to step back to the 1950s in terms of comfort, amenities, even number of electrical outlets (unless you bring a couple of extension cords). Certainly a step back, but with inflated prices due to the concert downtown. (Over $150 dollars for something that represents an old Super 8 motel.)

After that, it was time once again for beer, and Hops 99 was the perfect stop.

DINING

Hops House 99 is a brewpub specializing in Maine craft breweries.  With a good array of Maine beers and others from around the world, it follows its name by offering 99 beers.  22 beers on rotating taps, and the rest in cans & bottles.  On this afternoon, they had some specials to “kick the Keg.” So we had a couple of Jamaican Stouts at $3.99 each.

Our meals were good.  Their menu has enough choice to make anyone happy.  I had a pulled pork sandwich with plenty of pork and Bert had the BALT (Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce and Tomato). Both were delicious.  Service was timely and friendly – a definite visit every time we’re in Bangor. Hops 99 also has a bustling Trivia Contest on Thursday nights and entertainment on the weekend.

The other two dining options are the Epic Buffet (good, but not “epic”) and Take 2 Snack Bar which offers up a variety of you classic favorites including wings, burgers, sandwiches, salads & fries. It is open for breakfast daily at 6am. with a complete breakfast menu. During the week, it is the only breakfast option and is surprisingly expensive.  Noteworthy is the fact that they don’t accept casino dining credit, but will accept Marquee Rewards Points.  I would suggest you go out for breakfast somewhere outside the the property.

Marquee Rewards

Level three of Five in the Marquee Rewards Program of Penn National

A brief word about Hollywood Bangor’s rewards club. It includes levels in the Marquee Rewards Program. Penn National has bought some Las Vegas properties recently like M Resort & the famous Tropicana to go along with its country-wide portfolio of casinos & racinos.  Included in that portfolio is Plainridge Park in Massachusetts which uses the same Marquee rewards.  Points can be used at all Marquee Rewards properties, making a visit to Bangor, ME. more profitable.

Walking the Red Carpet to the Hollywood Casino

Gambling

This isn’t a 24/7 facility.  The property is open daily 8am – 2am.   It houses over 900 Vegas-style slots in 30,000 square feet of gaming space.  Slots include many old & new favorites, but many times only one or two of them.  Denominations include penny slots up to $10 in the High Limit area (which is larger than Oxford.) Hollywood includes a broad variation of slots catering to reel & video slots players, with many older slots mixed with the latest.  The number of $1 machines seem to equal the penny machines.  The number of machines oddly seems skewed toward $1 denominations.

Video Poker seems to be it’s low point. Mostly single line VP with terrible pay tables such as 7/5 JOB, 7/5 DDB. and 6/5  Bonus.  There are only two multi line games that I could find – a”Super Times Pay Spin Poker” and one “Ultimate X.”  Both have different denominations available starting at nickels.

16 gaming tables round out the casino’s main floor.  Hollywood Casino currently offers Craps, Blackjack, Spanish 21, Roulette, High Card Flush, Three Card Poker and Texas Hold’em Bonus®.  Most low limits start at $5. However, on this Sunday Afternoon, the limits were higher – BJ could not be found under $10 and most table games in at the $15 and above.  The one huge craps table had no Fire Bet, All Tall, All Small, etc.  Your basic craps with 3,4,5 odds.

There is a poker room with 4 poker tables with live action Texas Hold ‘Em games, 7-stud, and Omaha.  The same room has a small race book. Bangor Raceway is adjacent to the property and features a 1/2 mile racetrack and grandstand seating for up to 3,500. We didn’t have time to visit the harness racing track – maybe next time.

Hollywood Hotel Lobby, Bangor Maine

HOTEL – The Gem of the Property

The hotel has 152 rooms, including four suites, and with over 5,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space.  But it’s hospitality that shines here.  A friendly greeting, ease with check-in and in our room withing ten minutes both times we stayed over is what you can expect. The rooms are nothing special, if you compare them to Las Vegas.  But they are very homey, very clean well-designed, comfortable and have great amenities. A comped room here is a “no-brainer.”  But pay to stay and you won’t be sorry. On this particular weekend the comped rooms were blacked out due to the Keith Urban Concert that Sunday night.

Darling Waterfront Pavillion

Our final part of this NETG casino trip was an outdoor concert at the Darling Event Center, which was the closets thing to Woodstock I ever experienced.  This place is huge, and it was packed with many of Keith Urban’s fans.  A beautiful, balmy night was perfect for Kelsea Ballerini’s opening, and Keith Urban’s 2 hour performance.  This venue is fantastic for summer outdoor concerts.  With so many people, the audience was great – just be prepared to stand a lot.  We upgraded to seats, and with the large video screens capturing the excitement on stage, nothing was missed.  This is a 15 minute walk from Hollywood Hotel Casino.  We parked for free in the parking garage (parking around concert area can be expensive), played, ate and drank at Hollywood, and walked to the concert. We highly recommend a summer visit with a concert at Darling Event Center in mind.

The Draw

I like Hollywood Bangor.  In the early part of the week, as in Oxford, or even in CT’s mega resorts, it’s slow and quiet.  The staff all over the property prove hospitality is important from the hotel staff to the dealers. Enjoy Maine in the summer. And enjoy Maine’s casinos while you’re in the vicinity.

Binbin

 

 

Maine’s Casinos 2017 Revenue Presents Different Directions

As reported By Nora Flaherty of HarnessLink Gamblers in Maine spent nearly $54.6 million on slots and table games at the state’s two casinos last year.

Those numbers are from the Gambling Control Board’s annual report out this month. The report also finds that while Oxford Casino made about $2 million more in 2017 than in 2016, Hollywood Casino made about $900,000 less than the year before.

I feel there are many reasons for the disparaging revenue statistics, but the main reason is location, location, location!

Bangor is a quaint DownEast city in south-central Maine. So, what are the things that might make it a destination?

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway, Bangor Maine

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway, Bangor Maine

  • Some say they have the best shopping in Maine with the Bangor Mall, which is so popular that people from all over North America, including Canada, shop there. It has spawned several motels just to service the customers. However, all those hotels don’t seem to have spilled over into stay-cations including the Hollywood Casino.  Besides, doesn’t the Outlet Madness area of Kittery entice people from all over New England?
  • Downtown is a great place to eat, enjoy some night life, and enjoy free concerts and movies.  The beer selections, with the increase of craft brewers such as Geaghan Brothers Brewing next to the casino, Masons Brewing, Black Canvas Brewing and Maniacal Brewing are all great additions to SeaDog Brewing right in the Bangor area.
  • Darlings Waterfront Pavilion has excellent open-air entertainment in the summer, just a brief walk from the casino.
  • The Penobscot River Walkway is an excellent walking, biking, or running trail that starts in the back of the casino.

But this just isn’t enough it seems. Milton Champion is the executive director of the Gambling Control Board says both casinos made some changes this year.  “Oxford Casino added their hotel, and with that hotel addition they’ve also added some gaming floor,” Champion says. “On Hollywood’s side, they’ve actually taken away.”

Hollywood just isn’t close enough to draw from other cities. The driving distance adds to location problems:

  • Portland, Maine – 1 1/2+ hours
  • Berlin, New Hampshire – 2 hours+
  • Quebec, Canada – 3 hours
  • Montpelier, Vermont – 3 hours+
  • Boston, MA – 3 hours+

But gamblers have made their way to CT casinos driving longer distances?

Yes, but the end product is quite different. Number of better gaming tables, better video poker, better amenities….the list goes on…will entice people. Bangor and the Hollywood casino isn’t that enticing.

Officials attend the grand opening of the Oxford Casino Hotel on Route 26 on Nov. 9. The 107-room, four-story hotel is attached to Oxford Casino, which opened in 2012 and is owned by Churchill Downs Inc. (Oxford Casino photo)

Oxford on the other hand seems like the little engine that could. Additions along the way – better infrastructure, added hotel (with another new Hampton Inn across the street) a new dining option in the OX Pub, and closer proximity to the cities cited above makes their growth in revenue understandable.

According to Nora Flaherty’s report, “Of the money they took in, Oxford and Hollywood casinos sent $18 million back to the state to use for K-12 education; $5.9 million to the University of Maine system, the state’s community college system, and Maine Maritime Academy; $8.9 million went to the general fund; and $4.4 million went to harness racing purses. That’s among many beneficiaries, including the agricultural fair support fund, which got $1.8 million.

Every Summer, NETG drives up to check out both casinos. It’s always a fun and relaxing trip, and we have more to check on besides the casinos.  Something to look forward to.

Binbin

 

Valentines Day Specials at MA, ME & RI Casinos

February is for Lovers.  Here is Part 2 of all the opportunities for you and that special someone in Massachusetts, Maine & Rhode Island

Valentine’s Day At Plainridge Park Casino Plainville, MA.

FEEL THE LOVE FREEPLAY – 6PM-10PM – Win your share of $65,000 Free SlotPlay Saturday, February 3,10,17 from 6pm-10pm. 5 winners every hour can win up to $2,000 Free SlotPlay. Prizes valid for Free SlotPlay only, must be playing on Marquee Rewards card to be eligible.

RUSSELL STOVER GIVEAWAY – 11AM-4PM – Earn 500 points on Sunday, February 11th on your Marquee Rewards card the same day of the promotion to claim a box of Russell Stover Chocolates. May vary from picture. While supplies last. One per account.

Slack’s Oyster House & Grill FEBRUARY 14, 2018 DINNER SPECIALS FROM 5PM-10PM – Choose from a Prix Fixe Menu, $50 PP Complimentary glass of Roederer Estate Sparkling wine.  Click HERE for the MENU.


Valentine’s Day At Hollywood Hotel, Casino & Raceway, Bangor, ME

SWEETHEARTS’ GAMING PACKAGE – includes deluxe room accommodations for two, a bottle of champagne, a half dozen fresh roses, chocolate covered strawberries and an Epic Buffet dinner for two. Packages start at $271 per night. Package available Friday and Saturday night only.


Valentine’s Day At Oxford Casino, Oxford, ME

Valentine’s Buffet, Wednesday, February 14, 2018 – 5:00pm – 9:30pm; $32.95 per person – Featuring carved prime rib, lobster tail, peel and eat shrimp, and decadent desserts. Limited space available. Reservations recommended. Call 207-539-6705.


Valentine’s Day At Twin River Casino, Lincoln, RI

Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse February 14th –  SWEETHEART SPECIALS MENU

Wicked Good Bar & Grill February 14th – VALENTINE’S DAY MENU

Shipyard Brewpub at Twin River February 14th – VALENTINE’S DAY SPECIALS