OXFORD, Maine — Gamblers at Oxford Casino got their fill of slot machines and gaming tables on Thanksgiving Day, boosting attendance 30 to 50 percent compared to a regular Thursday, an official said.
Doris Sandell of Raymond waited in line with other family members for their slice of the Thanksgiving buffet, which included a turkey dinner. She said it’s their second Thanksgiving at the casino on Route 26.
“We come here for the casino and for the rest,” Sandell said, “I’m too tired of cooking Thanksgiving.”
She said they were mainly interested in the slot machines. Her family meets at the casino quite often to “play a little and have a little lunch,” she said.
Working the slots, Greg Hudak of Brewer and Chris Dispenzieri of Bangor said they were taking a little vacation from Hollywood Slots in Bangor.
The couple said they found a good deal at a lodge in Poland for three days and decided to spend the holiday there. Hudak said they were planning on Thanksgiving dinner at the casino and possibly returning to the game floor in the morning.
“Sometimes we break even, sometimes we don’t,” Hudak said. “We break even more often than not.”
The two watch each other play depending on who is winning at the moment. “She’s winning. I’m kind of downhill,” Hudak said. “This afternoon I expect to be hot.”
Around most Thanksgiving tables across the country, you can hear words of thanks and “pass the turkey and pass the cranberries.” At the casino, you hear “hit,” “double down” and “pass the chips.”
Oxford Casino Senior Director of Marketing Matt Gallagher described the Thanksgiving Day turnout as “a little better than a typical Thursday,” about 30 to 50 percent better.
Last year, about 300 people were served at the Thanksgiving Day buffet, and this year he expected numbers to be even better.
“It was good, just saying,” he said.
Not in the mood for turkey? The Oxford Grill nearby offered hot dogs, fries and other casual fare for gamblers.
According to Gallagher, the typical demographic for Thanksgiving Day ranges from empty nesters, who feel little need to put on a big spread for just themselves, to small groups of adult family members as the day progresses.
The next group to come through the doors, Gallagher said, are those leaving family functions, followed by professionals and those returning to town from holiday trips.
Gallagher said it’s an entertainment option, “especially when it’s cold outside.”
With an ever-expanding gaming floor and an addition expected at the end of the month, Oxford currently boasts 22 table games, including blackjack, craps, roulette and a few poker variations.
Video poker is available at the bar as well as on the floor, along with 800 slot machines with names such as Playboy, Triple Diamond and Golden Goddess.
The newest section of the gaming floor also plays sports on large screens adorning the far wall, as gamers stare, glassy-eyed, at the blinking lights of the slots.
While some shoppers are worried about what stores open when, Oxford Casino never closes.
Gallagher said even the fury of winter storm Nemo last February didn’t shut their doors.
“If that didn’t shut us down, nothing will,” he said, pointing out the absence of locks on the front doors.