Last year was a winner at Miami Valley Gaming, off Interstate 75 Exit 29 in Turtlecreek Township.

The video gaming and racing complex won multiple awards in two gaming industry magazine reader polls, including being named Best Casino/Racino and the place gamblers feel the luckiest, in Casino Player Magazine’s October issue.

“These are national awards and it’s what readers think, so that’s why we’re proud of them. It sounds like a cliché, but we take care of our customers,” says Domenic Mancini, president and general manager of the $175 million dollar complex, which marked its second anniversary in December.

It’s no secret that the abundance of gaming facilities across Ohio and Indiana, including the three racinos in the Cincinnati-Dayton area, has caused some to struggle. But Mancini says Miami Valley, a joint venture of Delaware North Companies and Churchill Downs Inc., is happy with its results, including net gaming revenues of more than $194 million in fiscal 2015.

“We think we’ve made a real nice niche for ourselves,” he says. 

He says it’s a tribute to the roughly 500 who work at the gaming complex, which includes 1,600 video lottery terminals, four restaurants and a 5/8-mile track for live harness racing, which resumed its 86-day season Jan. 9. Simulcast harness and thoroughbred racing from tracks around the country runs year-round.

“I think we have some of the greatest staff in the area working for us,” he says. “We also have a great facility, a great location, a great product, great racing and our branding is over the top, we believe.”

A key part of that branding is the fictional Lucky Buckeye Company, which offers clients a souvenir buckeye for good luck and is featured in Miami Valley’s advertising. The campaign won an award for creative excellence and caused a shortage of buckeyes in the Buckeye state last year after more than 100,000 were given to customers.

Over the last two years, Mancini says, Miami Valley also has become ingrained in the community with several corporate partners and memberships in local chambers of commerce. “Many of our employees sit on the boards of local organizations,” he says.

Last Christmas, for example, Miami Valley’s Give A Kid A Christmas drive collected more than 1,600 toys that were donated to the Salvation Army Middletown and the United Way of Warren County. 

This year Miami Valley is expanding its smoking patio, doubling the number of games from more than 30 to 70. At the same time, Mancini says the racino is constantly tweaking its gaming area.

“We’re constantly rearranging the floor, adding new products and the newest bells and whistles. A gaming floor is a living, growing organism,” he says.

For this year’s harness racing season purses have been increased 30 percent, a move that’s expected to spur racing interest. The racing schedule has also been changed, moving post times on Friday and Saturday to 6 p.m. and running racing matinees Sunday through Tuesday. The track is dark on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We had a great 2015 and we think that will carry over into 2016,” Mancini says.