It’s nearly post time for the Mint Gaming Hall Bowling Green location.
Located in the former hh gregg space near Greenwood Mall, the 40,000-square-foot satellite location of Franklin’s Mint Gaming Hall is scheduled to open Tuesday afternoon.
“We are looking for a soft opening on Tuesday, but we have no official time yet,” said John Wholihan, Mint Gaming Hall’s director of marketing. “In light of the tornado damage, we’re not looking for a big party or ribbon-cutting.”
What the owners of Bowling Green’s Mint Gaming Hall are looking for is a possible duplication of the success the Franklin location has experienced.
An offshoot of the Kentucky Downs horse racing track, the Mint Gaming Hall in Franklin offers gambling through Historical Horse Racing machines and simulcasting along with food, drink and entertainment.
Outfitted with more than 1,000 of the HHR machines that have fueled the growth of Kentucky Downs, Mint Gaming has attracted enough gambling fans from Tennessee and other areas to boost the purses it can offer at the facility’s live racing season.
The Bowling Green Mint Gaming Hall will be about half the size of the Mint in Franklin that was built by Kentucky Downs owners Marc Falcone and Ron Winchell after they bought the racetrack in 2019.
It will also have about half as many of the slot machine-like HHR machines. Wholihan said the Bowling Green location will have about 450 of the machines that allow guests to gamble on actual past races selected randomly.
The HHR machines, first introduced in the 1990s, have become a huge draw and a big source of income for racetracks.
Kentucky has nearly 4,000 HHR machines at six sites. In fiscal year 2020, more than $2.2 billion was bet through them and nearly $189 million was earned by the tracks operating the HHR parlors.
Growth of the machines has accelerated thanks to action taken by the Kentucky General Assembly.
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that HHR machines don’t constitute pari-mutuel betting and are thus unconstitutional.
In February, the legislature passed and Gov. Andy Beshear signed a bill legalizing HHR machines. That action was followed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s approval of Kentucky Downs’ application to expand its licensed premises.
Falcone and Winchell, through a corporation called BG Landco, quickly tried to land a gambling facility on a 16-acre tract in Bowling Green across Ken Bale Boulevard from the Sam’s Club and Stockdale’s stores.
In May, that plan was defeated in a 7-3 vote by the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County, leading to the current development that doesn’t require planning commission approval.
The Kentucky Downs owners are investing more than $6 million to renovate the former hh gregg space. Wholihan said to expect a facility similar to the Franklin Mint Gaming Hall, which has a Corner Cafe serving breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a “Winner’s Circle” bar and “Post Time” lounge. He expects Bowling Green’s Mint Gaming Hall to employ about 150 people.
Wholihan said opening of the “Post Time” lounge will be delayed until January, but the other amenities will be available during the soft opening.
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.