Hollywood Casino, PA

Over the last few years, land and home prices in East Hanover Township have skyrocketed — especially parcels around the casino.  I distinctly remember seeing the small, barren lot that I considered buying back in 2004 for $10k sell at auction for well over $200k last summer.  Not only that, but area businesses are either rebuilding or being demolished to make way for something bigger.  What was once pretty much the middle of nowhere has now become the potential to completely rebuild the area.

Consider Route 743.  Locally, it’s now anchored by Giant Arena & HersheyPark at the southern end and Hollywood Casino at the northern.  Traffic has multiplied by a factor I don’t even want to think about.  Within the last six months, there have been two new (and fairly decent) Italian restaurants and a Mainstay Suites either opened or being built.  50% of the local gas stations (that is to say “one”) have torn down and rebuilt.  There’s a Sheetz coming to that triangle of land on your left as you approach the casino.  The deserted parcel of land that’s hosted nothing more than a “Coming Soon – Bow Creek Mall” sign since 1992 has fueled rampant speculation about class-A commercial development.  So has the farmland surrounding the casino itself.

If you believe the locals (and I like to, because it’s simply more fun than allowing logic and reason to rule the day), the commercial re-zoning that’s been going on along 743 between I-81 and the mountain signals the start of major commercialization.  While I’m skeptical that we’ll see a Target or Best Buy (for a few years, anyway), consider what happened along Route 39 between Hershey and Route 22 over the last two years.  Vacant farmland, not quite convenient to anything, sprouted several MAJOR condo / townhouse developments, a new and thriving commercial plaza anchored by local commercial hero Giant, an “upscale” apartment complex, and more than one high-end ($200k+) standalone housing development.

Consider Mechanicsburg.  That barren stretch of the Carlisle Pike?  I don’t need to describe how well that’s doing.  Between Wegman’s and Target and Chick-Fil-A (did that place open yet?) and Panara and Best Buy and whatever else is in there, it went from ugly to prime class-A retail seemingly overnight.

Consider what Mohegan Sun did for the Scranton / Wilkes-Barre area.  I grew up next door to that area, and it’s been economically depressed for as long as I’ve know what “economically depressed” meant.  Various “salvation” projects, development initiatives, and other “we’ll save the city!” ventures have come and gone on a regular basis, but none of them have stuck.  Their casino came in at just the right moment, helping to put some serious muscle behind a commercial boom.  An area that spent most of the 80s and 90s struggling with crime, unemployment, and general undesirability has now nearly come full-circle to their prior Pocono-era glory.

So what’s to say East Hanover can’t become the next Lower Paxton?   Nothing, really.  Being 7 minutes from the northernmost Harrisburg exit on I-81 means it takes less time to drive to Hollywood Casino than it does to, say, navigate Jonestown Road (or the Carlisle Pike) on the weekend.  There are, however, some infrastructure problems in the area, and that’s where the township needs to tread with great care.

As the only major road leading to Hollywood Casino from 81, 743 is in need of being rebuilt.  That need is only going to grow as commercial development picks up.  Fortunately, bridges aside, it has the shoulder space to grow with minimal interruption.  The township sewage plant is in pretty bad shape (if I recall correctly, Penn National offered to build a brand new one for the township, an offer which the township not only refused, but went so far as to sue (and ultimately lose, at the taxpayers’ expense) to force Penn National to use the township’s plant instead).  From the days when no one expected this area to amount to anything, high tension wires are strung all over the place, making it hard to develop on the southern side of I-81.  Perhaps most damning is the fact that East Hanover simply doesn’t have the tax revenue to do much of anything, so they can’t prepare the area for improved development.  This would be a good time for the township to start thinking of some sort of tax-friendly incentive to draw development to the area.  Waive all permit fees?  Five-year ramped tax abatement?  State or federal grants?

There’s no good reason why the area won’t take off.  I don’t think anyone really expects it NOT to.  The question is when.

17 thoughts on “Hollywood Casino, PA”

  1. All I have to say is that I was extremely disappointed in the Hollywood Casino. I finally got to go last Thursday afternoon. I ended up spending $5 in the slots. Why? Because they charge $2.50 for the ATM fee. In addition, the smoking in the building is horrendous (and it wasn’t crowded). Why can’t they have a non-smoking section? The trash throughout the building was embarrassing. The women’s room had toilet paper strewn all throughout it & urine all over the toilet seat, there were full ashtrays and empty bottles and cups stuck between the slot machines. Where is their cleanup crew? It’s not like there aren’t enough trash cans, why can’t people lean over and toss out their garbage? If it looks like this after being open for 2 weeks, what is it going to look like in a year?

  2. That’s not good. It’s been pretty clean while I was there, but I agree that their ATM fee is ridiculous. I also like the instructions posted on the ATM about how to bypass your daily ATM limit — how thoughtful of them. All in all, my experiences there have been good. I hope that whatever issues they’re having now can simply be attributed to being brand new and not having all the bugs worked out yet.

  3. We were there last sunday, was disapointded to find there was only 4 video keno machines, that is the only game my wife likes to play I thought the casino was very nice. Please consider puting more video keno machines in and we will come back

  4. They have only been open for 2 weeks, give them a chance.

    I was there opening weekend and it was great. It’s not vegas, but it’s nice to have a place close to chill and hit the slots for a few hours.

    P.S. Hit up an ATM before you get there to avoid fees. Problem solved.

  5. I actually went there for my birthday and had the best time. The smoke didn’t bother me at all. I mean you have to expect that since you are going to a gambling casino. Half of the people have been there all day and they want a ciggerett. I really enjoyed the free drinks and the pirks for those who spend enough money. I think that mabey you should just hit up an ATM before you go out there next time. Although pretty many ATMs require a $2.00 fee if you are not a member. Just enjoy yourself and think of all the money that is coming back into Pa for reduced taxes! Oh by the way I won $250.00 off of the penny slots for only putting in $2.00. Just as I was leaving someone hit for $10,000 on the penny slots for putting in $5.00.

  6. never been is hoping to come soon just want to make a sugguestion Please bring some on the older games back like (something for nothing) that was my favorite game and I know may other who loved to play.

  7. Smoking is still terrible there. Inside of putting an area of non-smokers, they need to do what Delaware Park and others have done…BAN smoking in the building and make an area outside for smokers…Thanks for listening

  8. During my visits to Hollywood Casino I found that they have a NO-SMOKING section (and a fairly large one). I have also found that the
    $2.50 charge for ATM is reasonable when compared to the $4.99 fee charged in Atlantic City Casinos. I also found (on all my visits)
    that the Casino was very clean overall. To the people that do not smoke (which I do not) lighten up. What offends me is people who use perfume or after shave that is poured on them and “stinks” to high heaven. I am allergic to some of them. Maybe the Casino should ban “PERFUME” and after they ban perfume maybe they should ban Alcohol because some people do not drink. And then maybe they should ban food because maybe FAT People offend someone.
    See what I’m getting at ??? You are at a Casino…LIGHTEN UP

  9. I will continue to go to Delaware Park. No Smoking in the entire building is fantastic! No one wants to smell the ashtrays & have someone blow smoke in your face wether you smoke or not. Del Pk is not suffering from being non-smoking. Obviously PA does not care about their employess welfare who are there EVERY day in the smoke.!

  10. Have been going to Delaware casinos for a few years. All 3 of them are NON-SMOKING. They have plenty of patrons! Nobody is suffering and everybody is happy. Hollywod Casino should ban smoking INSIDE the Casino alltogether. I would bet big money that a positive impact would occur.

  11. I recently vistied the Casino on my way back from looking at a 68 firebird that was for sale.

    I was surprised at what a GREAT CASINO this was…..

    Clean ,spacious , I Dont get Lost in it like
    A.C. or the mogegan ones…

    Nice place to vistit for an afternoon.

  12. I think Hollywood Casino is Great. You can win there, Please don’t go to Charlestown Slots it’s the worst casino ever. As far as ATM fees get your money from your bank before you go then.

  13. I have to disagree about Charles Town. Maybe it depends on the machine you play. I`ve been playing video poker machines in casinos for 30 years and the “Triple Ace Poker” games at Charles Town have given me the best chance to win of anything I`ve ever played. Don`t get me wrong you won`t win every time but over the long run I`ve won on more trips than I`ve lost. I may try Hollywood Casino one day if I can find a listing of the games they offer before driving all the way up there.

  14. I agree 100%!!! I go to the Delaware Casinos because they have no smoking. I have an allergy to cigarette smoke and although I do go to the Pennsylvania casinos occasionally, I suffer as a result because every time I go I wind up with a migrane and a sinus infection from the smoke. I never have that problem in Delaware. I am for 100% SMOKE FREE IN ALL CASINOS IN PENNSYLVANIA.

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