PERRYVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — The first slots casino to open in the state is now at the center of a controversy.
Political reporter Pat Warren explains how a plan to draw more business is putting Hollywood Casino in Perryville at odds with some of the locals.
Martin Cleary was among the estimated 80,000 drivers who pass the I-95 exit to Hollywood Casino in Perryville but if he hadn’t taken a wrong turn, he would never have known it was there. That’s why the casino wants to put up a 175-foot sign.
“I might stop in,” Cleary said. “It wouldn’t be high on my priority list but we’d stop in just to see if the food’s any good, have a look around.”
But would the size of the sign be worth it?
“I think it’s a bad idea. I think because we live right across the bridge and would attract a ton of light and be disruptive. That’s what I think,” said Alaina Shly.
“But at the same time, if it causes more…economic growth at the casino, that could turn into more jobs in the community and so there’s goods and bads about both side of it,” said Chris Shly.
Residents Alaina and Chris Shly represent both sides of the debate in Perryville. Perryville commissioners are also divided.
Commissioner Michelle Linkey is opposed to the size of the sign.
“Being able to see the sign from backyards, it’s just not good for the town. I know I don’t want to see ’em. I don’t think anybody else does either,” Linkey said.
Bill Hayles, Hollywood Casino’s general manager, says, “I am very hopeful the town of Perryville sees the positive impact we have had on the local community in the last year and fully understands how a sign attracting customers off I-95 is important for the future health of business.”
There’s agreement there.
“I think it would be good for advertisement and people wouldn’t get lost as much trying to find it ’cause you can’t hardly see it,” said Miles Hardy.
“I think the idea would be great because I look at it as more revenue for the county up here,” said Jerome Reed.
But money isn’t everything.
“I just think it would be an eyesore,” said one woman.
The commissioners vote Tuesday.
The Perryville casino has grossed more than $100 million since it opened in September 2010.