Hollywood Online Casino PA Review
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course is actually a racino located near Hershey, Lancaster and Harrisburg (central Pennsylvania) which provides non-stop casino services. It is a unique facility for central PA because it accommodates a poker room together with a racing track for horses. But the fans or horse races are not limited to betting on this track only, they can place bets on other tracks in the USA, as well as Australia. Hollywood Casino is among the six licensed PA racinos and its best feature is the option to bet on simulcast and live races.
Penn National Race Course has been around for a long time – it was launched on August 30, 1972. It is operating throughout the whole year and the races begin in the evening, not during the day as it is at other racetracks. Hollywood Casino was launched in February 2008, four years after gambling with slots was legalized in Pennsylvania. In July 2010 came the table games.
Nowadays, the Hollywood Casino operates under Penn National Gaming and its owner is Gaming and Leisure Properties.
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Online Gambling at Hollywood Casino PA
Hollywood Casino is among the nine PA casinos which requested the full pack of licenses provided by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). The casino paid $10 million to apply for the following licenses:
- Online peer-to-peer games (online poker)
- Online slots
- Online table games
Luckily, on September 12, 2018 the application for Hollywood online casino PA was approved. The online platform will be developed by IGT, because it’s the new official partner of Penn National. The tech giant will be responsible for all sections of the online casino – poker, slots and table games.
The Hollywood online casino platform will launch either at the end of the year or the beginning of 2019. The online poker room and the live dealer feature will arrive in mid 2019.
Fortunately, Hollywood casino was also approved for a PA sports betting license and its sportsbook is expected to begin operation in November 2018. Online sports betting will soon follow.
Hollywood Amenities Overview
Dining and Entertainment
Visitors of Hollywood Casino and Penn National Race Course can choose from a variety of restaurants depending on their food preferences:
- Final Cut Stake: works from Wednesday till Sunday;
- Epic Buffet: offers traditional dishes from Asia, Italy and USA;
- Skybox Sports Bar: provides 50 LCD monitors to enjoy your favourite sport along with high quality food and drinks;
- Mountain View Dining: offers a great view over the racetrack;
- Terrace Lounge: another good location for watching race events;
- Home Stretch Pub & Deli: delicious food and close proximity to the racetrack;
- Paddock Grill: also located close to the track;
- Celebrity Grill
- Glitterati Pizza
- Main Event
On the other hand, Hollywood Casino doesn’t provide so many options for entertainment as other competitors in Pennsylvania. There are free live shows and performances by local bands every Friday and Saturday. Apart from these days, there is not much else you can do in Hollywood casino, so it’s not the best party spot.
The facility doesn’t offer rooms for overnight stay. Therefore, visitors should drive 2-3 miles to the nearest hotels located in Grantville:
- Comfort Suites
- Days Inn
- Hampton Inn
- Holiday Inn
- MainStay Suites
You can find more hotels in Harrisburg which is 4 miles away or Hershey which is 7 miles away. Personally we think that the best option is Hotel Hershey which has an excellent Tripadvisor rating.
Hollywood Casino PA Overview
Who is allowed to play in the casino?
People who are 21 or older are eligible to play in all licensed PA casinos. The legal age for betting on horse races in Pennsylvania is 18.
Is Hollywood Casino secure?
The Hollywood Casino, along with the rest of the land-based casinos in Pennsylvania, are regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). This means that the agency has implemented its high standards for fairness and security throughout the casinos.
On the other hand, the Penn National Race Course has been welcoming visitors for four decades already and there are numerous positive reviews of the racetrack online. It’s definitely trustworthy and there is nothing to worry about when wagering there.
Hollywood Casino Games
Hollywood Casino is the ideal option for people who want to start gambling. There are various choices, including live and simulcast racing, slot games and video poker. Now lets review the different types of games available at Hollywood Casino PA:
Are you a fan of slot games? Then Hollywood Casino is the perfect place to go. You can choose from 2450 slot and video poker machines, including classic reels and modern video slots. The range of denominations varies from 1 cent to $100.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular slots available at Hollywood Casino PA:
- Big Bang Bucks
- Cash Explosion
- Cash Spin
- Hot Hot Super Jackpot
- Kitty Glitter
- Sex and the City
- Sphinx 3D
Slot Games Rate of Return
Unfortunately, many players worry that they don’t receive a high rate of return on slot machines at Hollywood Casino. But this is a problem for all casinos located in Pennsylvania. Here the average rate of return is just 88-90%. There are two main reasons for that:
- The PGCB regulates the return rate on slots and it should be at least 85%. On the other hand, casinos have to pay 55% on the same slot machines. Well, math just doesn’t add up here and PA casinos have tough time offering better return rates.
- A lot of players have switched preferences from slots to table games (e.g. blackjack), because they offer lower house edge. Thus, slot machines have to provide higher edge to keep the bottom line of the casino.
So our advice is to play slot games with higher denomination because they offer higher rate of return as well. No matter if you win or lose, play only for several minutes to ensure you’ll keep your winning and not wind them back into the slot game.
As we mentioned above, Hollywood Casino offers a wide range of game selections, including table games. These are the top picks which players can expect to find out here:
- Big Six Wheel
- Fortune pai gow poker (with an optional bonus game)
- Four card poker
- Let It Ride
- Pai gow poker
- Spanish 21
- Three card poker
- Ultimate Texas Hold’ Em
If you wonder which roulette you should play – European or American – we advise you to choose the first option. The house edge for the European roulette (only one zero) is 2.70% and the house edge for the American (double zero) is 5.26%
Have in mind that the Big Six Wheel is the game with highest house edge in the whole casino, so you’d better avoid it.
As you might expect, Blackjack is the top choice for fans of the table games at Hollywood Casino PA. The reasons for that are the following:
- Provides the best odds in the casino
- Skills are important in this game, not just luck
- Variety of rules which might benefit both the player and the house
- Fair play is ensured thanks to the PGCB rules
- One of the lowest house edges in the country – only 0.40%
There are several critical game rules which players must be familiar with:
- Blackjack pays 3:2
- Dealer stands on soft 17
- Doubling down is allowed on any two cards
- Doubling down after splits
- Splits up to three hands (except aces)
- Late surrender
Lucky Ladies Side Bet
When you begin a blackjack game at Hollywood Casino you can choose an optional side bet called Lucky Ladies. The minimum amount of this bet is $1 and you can place it together with double, hit, split, stand and surrender bets. When the first two cards sum is up to 20, you with the Lucky Ladies bet.
Higher payouts are available for the following combos:
- Any 20 vs. any dealer upcard: 4 to 1
- Suited 20 vs. any dealer upcard: 10 to 1
- Matched 20 (two identical cards): 25 to 1
- Two queens of hearts vs. any dealer upcard: 100 to 1
- Two queens of hearts vs. a dealer blackjack: 1,000 to 1
Hollywood Casino has prepared a small room which accommodates 16 tables for poker and offers the following types of games:
- Limit and no-limit hold ’em
- Omaha and Omaha hi-lo
- Stud and Stud hi-lo
Unfortunately, there are no poker tournaments happening on a regular basis, but you can benefit from the Bad Beat Jackpot available for all hold’em games. To win it you need to beat quad tens or better with a higher hand of four-of-a-kind, straight flush or royal flush.
There are also several conditions prior to winning the Bad Beat Jackpot:
- Minimum amount in the pot is $20
- At least four players must participate in the dealing of the hand
- Both final players should use both of their cards to make the hand
If all these are met, then the losing player gets 50%, the best-hand player gets 25% and the rest is shared by the other active players.
Penn National Race Course is one of the few racing tracks in the USA. It provides race tournaments throughout the whole year. Most of the night racing events happen from Thursday to Saturday and almost every Wednesday after 6pm.
There is a special afternoon event on Mother’s Day and a few other:
- Belmont Stakes
- Breeder’s Cup
- Preakness Stakes
- The Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup
Marquee Rewards Program
Of course, Hollywood Casino PA couldn’t function without a rewards program for its most loyal players. If you want to be a part of the program, you can register at the service desk and make the most of your Marquee card.
With the Marquee card you can receive rewards at table games and slot machine. And not just in Hollywood Casino, but in all US casinos. Isn’t that great?
Marquee Rewards Tier Levels
As a holder of a Marquee Rewards card you can be eligible for the following promos:
- Dining and hotel stay discounts
- Free slot play
- Special events invitations
- Sweepstakes entries
There are 5 tier levels in the Marquee Rewards program. Your level depends on the amount of tier points you collected during the first or second half of the year. Below you can find the number of tier points needed to reach the next level:
- Marquee Rewards: 0 – 9,999
- Celebrity: 10,000 – 29,999
- Producer: 30,000 – 124,999
- Executive Producer: 125,000 – 399,999
- Icon: 400,000+
There are different benefits (such as free slot games and promo offers) associated with each tier level. For example, players at the Celebrity tier level can purchase tickets for the Norwegian Cruise Line at a discount rate. Producer players and the levels above can take advantage of special treatment at curated restaurants.
The top two tier levels – Executive producer and Icons – can benefit from the following:
- Annual renewal gift
- Personal host
- Selected parking spot and complimentary valet parking
- Two complimentary Norwegian Cruise Line cruises of up to seven days each, annually
- VIP lounge access for player and guest
Additionally, Icon tier level players receive the following rewards:
- An annual celebration dinner
- Annual $500 airfare reimbursement towards a cruise or casino trip
- Complimentary annual three-night trip to any Marquee Rewards Casino, along with a $250 dining credit
Our final thoughts about Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course are that it is suitable for people who enjoy blackjack, slot machines and horse racing more than the other types of gambling.
If you come on weekdays, you are guaranteed a more pleasant stay because it gets quite busy during weekends. If you are not a fan of waiting in line, higher minimums at table games and other not so favorable conditions, then stick to weekday visits.
In recent months, Hollywood Casino PA has received numerous positive reviews on top platforms such as Yelp and Tripadvisor. The most delightful features of the property are good lighting and proper hygiene, delicious food and kind staff.
Surely, there are several areas which Hollywood Casino still needs to improve, such as better comps, less smoke smell, lower minimums on table games, more entertainment options and quicker service for drinks.