AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The horses have started to fill the stalls at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown.
There are 13 barns on the property, and more than 700 horses have already arrived. Everyone is busy preparing for the second year racing this season.
“The racing will be even better than it was last year. More horses have shown interest in racing at the property,” said Mark Loewe, vice president of racing operations at Hollywood Gaming.
Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in West Virginia cut its live racing season short by 50 days. Its last day was October 17.
Loewe said this has led to an increase in racing in Austintown.
“We certainly had a lot of interest from the horsemen at Mountaineer about participating in the racing product here,” he said.
An increase in prize money for the horse race winners may also increase the competition. Due to the success of the video lottery terminals, the racino can now offer a daily purse distribution of $90,000.
“With our purses being elevated, it attracts more trainers and horsemen from around the country, because they get more money,” said Racing Services Manager Bill Bork.
The fall and winter racing season begins Friday, October 30. Bork said Hollywood Gaming has been hiring more people in the meantime.
“We’ve been staffing up,” he said. “During the summer months, we don’t need as many tellers — the people who take the bets. So, we hire more tellers and train them for the bigger crowds that we see during live racing.”
Overall, Hollywood Gaming hires more than 100 people for the fall and winter race season.
Area hotels said they have not seen a spike in business since the racino opened, however.