ThistleDown Racino welcomes guests for controlled demonstration

NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - ThistleDown Racino may not open its doors to the general public until next Tuesday, but a select few had the chance to break in the North Randall track's 1,150 slots during a controlled demostration Tuesday night.

"It's kind of like a pro football team in preseason games, to get out there and play a little bit and see what we need to tweak," said ThistleDown General Manager Rick Skinner.

About 1,500 friends and family of ThistleDown's employees were invited to put the racino through the paces.

"A lot of things that you learn are logistical things," Skinner said, like how to cut down on lines or tweaking the valet flow and shuttle service from the parking lot. In addition, it was a chance for the Ohio Lottery Commission to study the operations.

"We've been scrimmaging amongst ourselves for so long I think I can speak for the entire ThistleDown team, we're ready for tonight," Skinner said.

All money won by the racino Tuesday night will go to one of three local charities.

As of two weeks ago, work still needed to be done on the racino's bars and restaurants, but Skinner said they were ready to go.

"All of that's completed. The only areas that we're finalizing right now is our Diamond Lounge and then our two outdoor VLT smoking patios and those are scheduled right now for April 18th."

Live racing at ThistleDown is set to begin the next day, April 19. Track regulars were among those in attendance Tuesday night.

"I can't wait for the horses to come back, I mean, that's what I'm waiting on," said Alex Gray of Bedford.

While impressed with the 57,000 square-foot gaming space, he admits he knows he'll soon have to share his track with thousands of gamblers weekly. But then he said will lead to better purses.

"It will get more people here you know which will definitely, it will help the racing industry," Gray said.

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