Maine Casino Trip Report Part 1 – Oxford Hotel & Casino

New Oxford Hotel next to the Casino.

A trip to visit the two Maine casinos is usually accompanied by good food, great beer and a lot of driving. Oh yes…..there was gambling, too. Day 1 was the Oxford Casino & Hotel

We first drove to Oxford Hotel & Casino in Oxford, Maine. The Oxford Casino, owned and operated by Churchill Downs Inc., has 848 slot machines and 22 table games. and opened on June 5, 2012. It has recently gone through the addition of a connecting Hotel, and a new pub dining experience, with rotating beer taps and great craft beer from the Maine.  After a five hour drive, this was our first stop. But first, check-in….

Hotel

Basic Room at Hotel Oxford

Checking was smooth and quick with friendly service. Small lobby desk, but seems to serve them well. Our room was beautiful, with electrical plugs everywhere. Within 5 minutes from getting to our room, we received a call from the front desk asking if everything was as expected, wishing us a great stay – nice touch! Amenities include refrigerator, safe, and Keureg coffee maker in a spacious enough room. The large shower had shampoo & body soap in containers attached to the wall.  It was a delightful place to stay.

The Ox Pub

Good food and great beer.  The new Ox Pub is a terrific addition.  Before the expansion, this little casino just stood alone out in the Maine woods of Oxford, with two food options.  But the Hotel, expanded parking, and this Ox Pub seems to round the casino experience.  Our beer selections were the Simplicity Orange Maple Wheat from Warren, ME and ironically the Black Hog Granola Brown Ale from Oxford, (wait for it) CT!  We both ordered, what else, but the Maine Lobster role with over a pound of lobster, Cole slaw  and fries -highly recommended.Great service. They also are known for their Bourbon selection as well as the Maine craft brews.

Now we were ready to survey the casino area, which is very nicely hid from the dining options.

The Expanded Casino Area

It was a Saturday night – should I say more?  The casino wasn’t that big in the first place, and although it’s been expanded, it was packed with people. As Bert said, “When you’re the only game in town for miles and miles around, it’s going to be a weekend draw.” The only downside to this slot laden casino on a busy night is that there are no empty machines. Even the video poker, which would total about 30 single line Game Makers were full – even with the terrible pay tables offered.

Saturday’s promotion also contributed to the number of people there. The Super 6 was every hour from 3-8PM (tailored to a mostly over 50 clientele) with both of us winning at least $2 each hour in the drawing of 6 numbers out of 20.  East guest picked their own numbers.  After the promo was done, the crowd thinned, and there were more opportunities to play.

With no night club, bowling alley, DJ, or entertainment venue (not even a little lounge act) this is not the place that caters to a younger crowd.  The race to get millennials inside is really lost ob the owner Churchill Downs, Inc.  But, it is not being missed either.

Gambling

Inside Oxford Casino, Oxford Maine

  • Slots – many older slots mixed in with some of the latest.  Not a lot of tall new tall cabinet machines, but would be out of place here.
  • Video Poker – 7/5 JOB, 8/5 DDB at $1 level;  – should I say more?
  • Craps – $15 minimum on a Saturday night. Two tables.
  • Blackjack – 3/2 pays, dealer hits on soft 17, 6 deck shoes.  Some with Progressive Blazing 7’s side bet.  $15 minimum on weekends, most $25.  Morning had a special $3 BJ table!
  • Other table games included were Roulette, Ultimate Texas Holdem, 3 Card Poker, Spanish 21, Mississippi Stud Poker, and Mini-Baccarat (which didn’t seem very popular.)
  • There is a high limit room, big enough for a craps table, blackjack table and one more not recognized.

REWARDS CLUB

Video Poker Player’s Club
  • $1 Coin-In = 1 Point
  • Free Play or Comps: 500 Points = $1 (0.20%)
  • I would assume slots would earn more points for $1 in, but no way of getting this info at this time

Breakfast Buffet

The breakfast buffet in the Oxford Grille, 2 of the three dining options, is very good.  Brunch at the Ritz it’s not, but everything was delicious and we would thoroughly recommend this if staying at the hotel. The set-up is well done with a number of the usual breakfast stations, an omelet station, and a waffle station. At $12, this is a bargain.   

THE DRAW

The expansion is outstanding, the hotel we loved, and the service is great, even though the next closest casino is 120 miles away! Further expansion of the casino should be the next step for Churchill Downs, Inc. because this place is a winner in their portfolio.

Bert’s conclusion was “Service is very friendly, but they know they’re not the star of the show.  The staff at Oxford is here to serve the guest.”

Couldn’t say it better myself!

Next, it was on to Bangor with a review of the Hollywood Hotel, Casino & Raceway. see ya next post.

Binbin & Bert.

 

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