Sandy's Gaming in Ashland officially opens Thursday night

ASHLAND, Ky. (WCHS) — The next step in making Eastern Kentucky an entertainment destination opened its doors Thursday night.

Sandy's Gaming is located in the former Sears store at the former KYOVA Mall in Boyd County. After the ribbon cutting, the doors opened for business, and people wasted no time in going inside to try their luck.

"It's new. We like it," said Ruth Duelly of Portsmouth.

She and her husband wanted to check out the new facility that is expected to attract visitors from around the region, giving the area an economic boost.

Earlier this week, Sandy's had a soft opening. Cecil Abrams, of Flatwoods, Ky., was there.

"I didn't do very well, but a lot of people did. I lost a little bit, but I think I can win it back today," he said.

Construction began last April. The facility is a $75 million investment by Revolutionary Racing, the owner of Sandy's Gaming. Officials said it will create 250 new jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenues.

"We believe that this area has made money way before we got here, and the people here are amazing people they just haven't had the opportunity as of late to have industry come in and believe in this community," Conor Lucas, vice president at Revolutionary Racing, said.

The horses outside the gaming center symbolize just the beginning of the investment.

On 182 acres behind the gaming facility, Kentucky's first quarter-mile horse racetrack will be built. Construction has already started and it is expected to be finished next year with the first races expected in 2025.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear made the first sports bet at the new gaming center, wagering the Kentucky Wildcats will beat the Tennessee Volunteers in their college football game Saturday.