Barstool Sportsbook is Taking Shape at Austintown Racino

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – Although the full sportsbook experience at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course won’t be ready on New Year’s Day, those who come to the facility that day will be able to see what’s coming.

Sports gaming becomes legal in Ohio at 12:01 a.m. Sunday – just after midnight Saturday night – and the racino bet-writer windows and self-service kiosks will be ready to go at that time.

The Barstool Sportsbook is on the second floor, which is currently undergoing renovations to give it a whole new look.

The bar and restaurant area will get a look reminiscent of an old-school baseball stadium. Massive television screens will be mounted above the bar to show live sports games, and hundreds of smaller monitors will line the walls.

It will be “an energetic atmosphere,” said Kevin Brogan, director of marketing. “This won’t be an old-school Vegas-style sports book. It’s a new-school experience.”

While an opening date has not yet been set, Brogan said it will be fully open before Feb. 12 – Super Bowl Sunday.

In the meantime, the racino will be fully prepared for sports betting on New Year’s Eve and Day.

Diners will be able to order food from the kitchen. At the H Lounge on the main betting floor, there will be live music, with party hats and noise makers for a countdown as midnight approaches. The Ohio State-Georgia college football playoff game will be on the big screens.

As launch dates for legalized sports betting go, this one is unusual.

“I don’t think any [betting parlor] has ever gone live at midnight, let alone on New Year’s Eve,” Brogan said. “I expect people will want to be here just to be able to say they were among the first to bet. But I would expect a lot more people will come in on Sunday morning.”

The sports bet-writer windows will be staffed as late as the crowd warrants, Brogan said.

Sports betting on apps and at kiosks in bars also goes live at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, but it’s likely that most bars will not launch their machines at that time. Josh Langenheim, owner of Steel Valley Brew Works in Boardman, is throwing a large New Year’s Eve bash. With that in mind, he said he has decided to wait until Tuesday to launch his sports betting kiosks.

An artist’s rendering of the main entrance to the Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Gaming in Austintown.

The Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Gaming in Austintown will bring a new type of nightlife to the Mahoning Valley, Brogan said.

“By 9 p.m., the horse betting crowd is gone, and the sports betting crowd will be arriving,” he said. It will enliven the second floor, which typically becomes underutilized as the hour grows late.

Kiosks will be available 24 hours a day at the racino. Ten kiosks have been placed near the entrances on the main floor.

The Barstool Sportsbook area is geared toward sports fans who enjoy watching games with friends.

“If there is a big boxing or [mixed martial arts] event, and the main event starts at 11 p.m., we’ll stay open late enough to pay off those bets after the fight ends,” Brogan said, adding MMA events are usually big events at sportsbooks. “They are raucous,” he said.

For the Super Bowl, the racino’s sportsbook area might have to require reservations for tables, and possibly even set time limits.

Brogan expects sports betting will be extremely popular at Hollywood Gaming in Austintown.

“This is a gambling market,” he said. “It’s in the blood. We know that folks from the Youngstown area are already driving into Pennsylvania for sports betting. Now, they won’t have to. If you’re looking for that energy that comes with watching a game with other folks who have a stake in the game, you can come here.”

Sports gaming has already energized the staff at Hollywood Gaming. Additional staff has been hired, and existing staff is being cross-trained to take bets and pay out prizes.

“It has opened up career growth here,” Brogan said. “Staff members are adding to their skill set.”

Pictured at top: Sports bet-writing windows at Hollywood Gaming in Austintown.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.