There’s no casino
gambling in Ohio – yet. But there’s still a lot of dice, card and slot
action in nearby states including Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia.
since the 60-plus pack spends one-third more cash than younger
visitors, according to studies, casinos are scrambling to get their
slice of the Baby Boomer pie with giveaways, free food, special room
rates, shuttles and star entertainment geared to Boomer memories
including the likes of Vicki Lawrence, the Marshall Tucker Band, David
Cassidy and the latest “Elvis” in the spotlight.
looking for a casino lift can hop a round-trip shuttle with H&H
Transportation to Hollywood in Lawrenceburg, Ind., the closest gaming
spot. It leaves every two hours, 10:15 a.m. to 8:15 p.m., Monday
through Saturday from Government Square on Fifth Street. The $20 cost
includes a $7 food voucher at the casino. (The final return trip is 11
But many take the easier route,
surrounded by friends with door-to-door service on comfy charter
coaches departing from many residential, social or church facilities.
“A group leader can arrange it with the casino or we can handle the trip details,” says Mary Jo Klug of Charter Bus Service.
Pieper, director of group operations at Provident Travel, says though
they arrange casino day trips as part of their overall tours, it was
more common 10 to 15 years ago for seniors to hop on a bus. “Today’s
seniors are more active and do more of the short-distance driving
Casino charter trips usually
require a minimum of 25 guests and include door-to-casino service, with
free admission and a “player card” for each casino visited. Player
cards keep track of how much time players spend at machines and can be
redeemed for food coupons and discounts. Frequent gamers can get
freebies and coupons in the mail as well.
are welcome to make their own casino arrangements, says Klug, but “if
we are making the arrangements we contact the casino to see what’s
being offered for the day, which can vary from day to day or week to
week.” The charter provides a list of the guests so player cards and
vouchers can be arranged ahead of time.
day trips leave at about 10 a.m. and return at about 3-4 p.m., but they
can be set to fit any schedule, even stopping at two casinos. “But a
lot of casinos have minimum play requirements – usually three to four
hours – before a buffet is thrown in,” says Klug, so a day trip to one
casino may be most lucrative to garner “extras” for the group.
Casino in Lawrenceburg is the closest to Cincinnati and often the most
popular for do-it-yourself drivers. “We see charter trip requests for
Belterra just because it’s a farther drive,” says Pieper, and can cost
anywhere from $25 - $50 per person. “We try to keep it reasonable and
can throw in another stop along the way or a show or a dinner on the
A typical trip for about 45-50
people to Hollywood Casino would be about $500 total, says Klug. “It
all depends on what the casino is offering and the time and mileage.”
Seniors looking for more than a day trip are the norm for Elizabeth
Oliver of Lion Tours. “My population prefers to go a little farther
because they can drive themselves to the area casinos.” The Wheeling
Island Hotel Casino Racetrack in West Virginia and the Mountaineer
Casino Racetrack & Resort in New Cumberland, W. Va., are popular
“On the West Virginia trip, we
stop at the Wheeling Island for gaming and lunch then go to the
Mountaineer for more gaming and to spend the night.” A $159 trip will
get three meals and up to $30 of coin play and includes transportation,
luggage and hotel accommodations (double occupancy) and any “comps” or
extras being offered.
Casino Hotel and Motor City Casino Hotel are also popular at Lions.
Last year Provident Travel arranged a two-night trip to Michigan’s
Soaring Eagle, in Mount Pleasant, northwest of Detroit, with a stop at
the Henry Foard Museum.
casinos are another hotspot at Lions Tours, and at Travel America
Tours. “People usually want to include more than just casinos,” says
Bob Callahan, director of tours at Travel America. On their Mississippi
trips “we usually stop in Memphis for shows or a stop at Graceland to
see Elvis’ home.”
Provident has a two-night
trip to the Greenbrier Resort’s newly-opened Tavern Casino, modeled
after Monte Carlo, in Sulphur Springs W. Va, “a destination in itself,”
It really depends on what the
group wants and the time of the year, says Pieper of their charter
trips. “We do about 150 a year and that includes the casino runs.
“Most folks want a little more than just casino time in their trip.” ■