HomeOhio Sports Betting NewsThe Robot Revolution is Coming to Four Ohio Casinos and Racinos

The Robot Revolution is Coming to Four Ohio Casinos and Racinos

At just over 5 feet tall and weighing around 400 pounds, the K5 Autonomous Security Robot doesn't always blend in perfectly in a crowd.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

But the ASRs also don’t make a lot of noise, and they can’t move more than 3 mph – so they hardly seem like a threat, either.

And now the ASRs – already a fixture in many U.S. malls and supermarkets – are coming to 43 Penn Entertainment properties across 20 states.

That will include four Hollywood-branded properties in OhioHollywood Casino Columbus and Hollywood Casino Toledo, as well as the racinos (racetrack/casino blends) at Dayton Raceway and Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown.

Some Ohio casino gamblers who like to travel may already have seen the ASR robots at Penn’s Hollywood Casino in Aurora, Ill.; at the Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa; or at the M Resort in the Las Vegas, Nev. area.

Knightscope, which manufactures the robots, notes that they are equipped to “greet guests with a friendly voice while also providing additional eyes and ears for the large human security team. Robots also offer a two-way communication system to enhance the safety of visitors and workers.”

The company adds that “robots are already well integrated into the physical security ecosystem, and the devices emerging today are the next stage in an evolutionary process that is steadily expanding robots’ abilities.

“As robots become ‘smarter’ and more capable, they are able to take on more roles, reducing (but not replacing) the need for human personnel,” according to a company spokesperson. “Additionally, robots can serve as force multipliers for a leaner, more cost-effective and operationally effective security team.”

The most high-profile K5 robot is located in Times Square in Manhattan, where it patrols the subway station. Privacy advocates expressed concern that the robots might soon possess “facial recognition” tools to spy on visitors, and it is not yet clear how many security jobs might be lost at casinos and other properties that employ robots on the premises.

Penn Deal a Major Step for Knightscope

The agreement with Penn Entertainment is the first extensive deal for Knightscope, and it seems likely to be followed by other deals that make the robots an even more integral part of the casino gaming floor landscape.

“PENN Entertainment’s commitment to safety and the guest experience is extraordinary,” said William Santana Li, chairman and CEO at Knightscope. “We are overjoyed that we will be providing Knightscope technologies across its portfolio to protect the surge of guests arriving and departing from all of its properties daily.”

Originally a horse racing track operator in Pennsylvania, Penn Entertainment branched out in 2000, buying casinos in St. Louis and in Biloxi, Miss. Another dozen casino acquisitions followed in the next seven years.

Penn Entertainment entered into a partnership with controversial gambling brand Barstool Sports, which has a vast following among a younger clientele than found at most casinos. In September 2023, Penn announced it was rebranding its Barstool sportsbooks to “ESPN Bet.”

There are a total of 17 Hollywood casino-branded casinos and racinos, also operating in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Maryland, Maine, and Mississippi. In addition to Hollywood and Ameristar, other Penn brand names on multiple properties are Argosy, Boomtown, and L’Auberge.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission this week issued revenue figures for each casino and racino property for August.

Of the state’s 11 properties, the Mahoning Valley racino placed third with $24.2 million in revenue, and the Columbus casino was fifth at $21.8 million. The Toledo casino placed eighth at $19.1 million, while the Dayton casino placed dead last at $11.2 million.

In the calendar year 2022, Ohio casinos and racinos ranked 9th in the U.S. with $2.33 billion in revenue – in line with its ranking as the seventh most populous state.

Meanwhile, the state lagged behind dozens of rivals in not launching legal online Ohio sportsbooks until Jan. 1, 2023 – but it already ranked fifth in betting handle in the first six months of the year with $3.8 billion in bets placed.

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