Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course is a casino and thoroughbred racetrack in Grantville, just outside the state capital of Harrisburg. It is one of 13 Pennsylvania casino license holders that has been invited to apply for online gambling permits in categories including online poker, online slots, and online table games, through the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
Chances are the owner and operator Penn National Gaming will take full advantage of that invitation.
Penn National Gaming is actually a local casino company, headquartered in Wyomissing. The company owns, operates or has ownership interests in almost 30 gaming and racing facilities in 16 states and Canada.
At the end of 2017 Penn National Gaming estimated it operated approximately 36,200 gaming machines, 810 table games, and 4,800 hotel rooms.
Hollywood Casino social casino site
The company does not currently own or operate a single real-money online gambling site. However, it offers social online gaming through its Penn Interactive Ventures division. This includes the social casino site HollywoodCasino.com, which offers over 50 free-to-play online slots players can access using a computer or mobile device.
The site was developed in partnership with US gaming tech company Scientific Games Corporation and launched in 2015.
Popular slots available on HollywoodCasino.com include various titles players can find in casinos across the US, online and off. These include:
- 88 Fortunes
- Quick Hit Platinum
- Super MONOPOLY Money
- Quick Hit Black Gold
- Lady Robin Hood
- Super Jackpot Party
- Lil’ Red
- Jungle Wild
- Rainbow Riches
Players can also earn Marquee Rewards loyalty points for playing on the site. Marquee Rewards loyalty points can also be earned and redeemed at more than 20 Hollywood Casino properties across the US, including Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
Real-money online gaming
Penn National Gaming has a long history of partnering with Scientific Games Corporation on more than just the HollywoodCasino.com site. In fact, Scientific Games has become Penn National’s go-to supplier for various gaming tech in its land-based casino as well.
The two would be an obvious pairing for the launch of a Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course real-money PA gambling website. However, there’s a good chance it will involve more than just flipping a switch at the pair’s existing social casino site to allow it to accept real-money wagers.
NYX Gaming Group
In January of 2018, Scientific Games completed its acquisition of leading online gaming technology company NYX Gaming Group Limited.
NYX is a big-time game and software supplier in the legal and regulated US online casino market. In fact, its software and games can be found on a variety of sites in the New Jersey online gambling market.
NYX inked a deal with NJ online gambling market leader Golden Nugget that saw almost 20 of its games featured on the site immediately. Plus, another 30 new NYX games have rolled out on the site since then.
The company also signed a deal with Amaya, now The Stars Group, to feature 20 of its casino game titles on the PokerStars NJ online poker and casino site that launched in the spring of 2016.
PokerStars NJ still features popular NYX titles including:
- Judge Dredd
- Irish Eyes 2
- King Kong – Island of Skull Mountain
- An Evening With Holly Madison
In April 2016, NYX was named Best Platform Supplier at the iGaming North America awards.
The company has actually been supplying Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s Caesars-branded NJ online casino site with gaming content since 2014. However, in June 2016 Caesars Interactive Entertainment agreed to a deal with NYX Gaming Group to re-launch the Caesars NJ online casino through the NYX Open Platform System.
The move allowed Caesars to improve marketing and loyalty services and retain access to the growing portfolio of NYX game content.
The NYX Open Platform System launched in 2015, and if Penn National Gaming wants to launch real-money gaming for Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in PA on a big step above its HollywoodCasino.com play-money social casino offering, that’s the direction it will likely go.
Looking a lot like Caesars
Should Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course launch a PA online gambling site with the NYX Open Platform System in place, outside of branding, marketing, and promotions, the online casino would closely mirror what Caesars has in New Jersey.
Caesars NJ online casino moved over from Amaya to the NYX Open Platform System in 2016. This allowed the site to greatly increase its desktop and mobile game portfolio with titles from NYX and the company’s large network of third-party casino game suppliers.
Caesars now has one of the largest varieties of games available in the NJ market, including as many as 300 slots and table games.
The platform offers real-money mobile gaming on apps available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. In fact, the mobile app is one of the only ones in the New Jersey market that offers something relatively equal to what is available on the desktop.
This bodes well for the potential of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course’s online gambling offering.
Large game library
Caesars started out as one of the smaller NJ online casinos, but since it adopted the NYX Open Platform System, it has grown into one of the largest.
That means the game library available on a Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course online gambling site could be large right out of the gate.
Caesars currently offers:
- More than 340 slots
- 22 video poker variants
- 9 Blackjack variants
- 8 Roulette variants
- Let It Ride
- Three Card Poker
If Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course launches with a game library anywhere near that size it should be among the market leaders.
Hollywood Online Casino slots
Like Caesars, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course will launch with a slots library that includes various NYX designed games and a wide variety from third-party game developers. Expect to see modern video slots, old school classics, five-reel video slots with high-quality graphics, and high-tech animations and progressive jackpot slots with interactive bonus games.
Some of the most popular slots Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course could launch with may include:
- Street Fighter II
- Spinning 7s
- Triple Treasures
- Captain Nemo
- Family Guy
- Rags To Riches
Hollywood Online Casino video poker
Caesars in NJ is a dream for video poker players, offering as many as 22 different video poker titles.
Some of the video poker titles available through NYX Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course could launch with may include:
- Game King Double Bonus Poker
- Game King Bonus Poker
- Jacks or Better
- Deuces Wild Elite
- Deuces Wild
- Tens or Better – Video Poker
- Jacks or Better Game King
- Five Play Draw Poker Game King
- Triple Play Poker Game King
- Double Double Bonus Poker Game King
Hollywood Online Casino Roulette
The NYX platform allows Caesars to offer eight Roulette games in NJ. If Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course jumps aboard the NYX Open Platform System, the following roulette titles could be available to players in PA as well:
- European Roulette
- Double Bonus Spin Roulette
- Three Wheel Roulette
- American Roulette
NYX gives platform users access to a version of no-commission Baccarat that does away with the five-percent commission charged on winning banker bets.
Blackjack is the most popular table game at the casino. Adopting the NYX system would allow NYX would allow Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course several different varieties of the game, including:
- SideBet Blackjack
- Blackjack Classic
- AC Blackjack
- Vegas Blackjack
Let It Ride and Three Card Poker
Caesars NJ online casino offer electronic versions of the table games Three Card Poker and Let It Ride through the NYX Open Platform System. A Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course could do the same.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course history
The Penn National Turf Club Inc. was incorporated in March 1968. In November of that year, it was granted one of the first pari-mutuel wagering licenses by the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission.
Penn National Race Course held its opening day on Aug. 30, 1972 offering night time racing all year round.
The original license only allowed the track to hold 100 racing days per year. But the track lured a rival operator Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association over giving them 100 more.
Pennsylvania’s first turf course was added in 1978 and before long, Penn National opened the state’s first telephone betting system. Telebet allowed patrons to deposit funds at the track and place bets over the phone.
Penn National Race Course also started its own television program called Racing Alive. This gave fans and gamblers an inside look at the operation.
In 1992 Penn National opened its first off-track betting facility. Two years later the company went public as Penn National Gaming and before long, Penn National had six off-track betting sites in operation.
The company bought the Pocono Downs harness track in 1996 allowing it to open five more off-track betting facilities.
That same year, Penn National Gaming renovated the Charles Town Race Track in West Virginia, and after voters there approved the installation of video gaming machines Penn National Gaming suddenly found itself in the gaming business beyond just horse racing.
Becoming Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
Penn National Gaming procured a slot machine licenses from the PGCB in 2004. It tore down the old track and opened Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course on Feb. 12, 2008.
The casino now features 70 table games, almost 2,500 slots, a 16-table poker room. and the thoroughbred track hosting races all year long.
Penn National Gaming divested its interest in Pocono Downs. However, after buying out rival casino company Pinnacle in 2018, the company added a second PA casino to its portfolio: Meadows Racetrack and Casino outside of Pittsburgh.
Penn National Gaming is also the largest operator of racetracks in North America.
Hollywood Casino: Bridges the gap between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
Residents of Dauphin County and its surrounding areas favor Hollywood Casino not necessarily because it excels in any one area of the casino business, but due to its centralized location.
With the next closest casino in the Sands a cool 75 miles down Route 78 and the nearest live horse racing venue even further out, Hollywood is Pennsylvania’s only casino that doesn’t risk losing its patrons to nearby competition. This unique facet of the racino has worked decidedly to its advantage, evidenced by its more than respectable revenue figures.
In fiscal 2012-13, Hollywood’s reels took in less revenue than only five other Pennsylvania-based casinos. Of those that beat it out, two – Harrah’s Philadelphia and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs – only did so by a less than five percent margin. What’s makes Hollywood’s feat even more impressive is that at 2,456 slot terminals, it boasts approximately 350 fewer machines than Harrah’s.
So while Hollywood Casino may not own the same brand recognition or prestige as Harrah’s, the fact that Harrah’s shares patrons with several other Philadelphia-based casinos ultimately vaults Hollywood into a virtual dead-heat with its more renowned rival.
At $39 million in gross revenue (2012 – 13), Hollywood Casino ranks eighth among Pennsylvania casinos. The discrepancy between the casino’s slot machine and table game revenues can be accounted for by its relatively paltry selection of games decided on the green felt. In total, the Hollywood touts 66 tables – far fewer than PA’s biggest players, and barely on par with its bottom-feeders.
What tables games are spread at Hollywood Casino at Penn National?
Hollywood Casino offers the usually array of easy-to-learn, easy-to-master staples such as BlackJack, Craps, Roulette and 3-Card Poker. Other games that get off with some frequency include Ultimate Texas Hold’em, 4-Card Poker, Let it Ride and Pai-Gow Poker – just don’t expect for there to be more than 1-2 tables running at a time.
In the spirit of full disclosure, nothing about the casino’s table game selection truly stands out as remarkable, as Hollywood clearly caters more to its faithful slot junkets than its card peelers and dice hurlers.
The casino’s poker room is equally pedestrian. At 16-tables, it is not equipped to host the type of tournaments found in other Hollywood casinos. At best, players can win their way into the Hollywood Poker Open via a monthly freeroll. The site’s poker page claims that Hollywood’s poker room spreads Hold’em, PLO, O8 and 7-Stud, but don’t be surprised if the only games running are low limit Hold’em.
The Hollywood Casino advantage
Besides its monopoly over Central Pennsylvania’s gaming market, Hollywood Casino boasts Central Pennsylvania most popular music venue in Hollywood on the Roof. Every Friday and Saturday the celebrated arena features either a live dance party of an act that pays tribute to the musical legends of yesteryear.
Hollywood Casino also touts a varied selection of casual and premier dining establishments including Final Cut Steakhouse, the Skybox sports bar, a 21-and-over-only buffet and Mountain View, the latter of which features the best view of the racino’s 1-mile horse racing track.
And in true exploitative fashion, Hollywood casino boasts a series of gift shops and Hollywood themed activities, the most notable of which is its Hollywood Memories Museum.