Cleveland’s Casino: One Year Later

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The Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland was the state's first when it opened last year.(Photo: Brian Bull, WCPN)
The Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland was the state's first when it opened last year.(Photo: Brian Bull, WCPN)

One year ago today, the gleaming doors of the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland opened to a long line of patrons eager to try their luck at slots, blackjack, and other games of chance. The casino itself was a gamble for civic supporters – one that stood to win big gains for the city and county.

So a year later, has the bet paid off?

Consensus is largely favorable for the Horseshoe Cleveland.

In its first year, after subtracting winnings paid out to lucky players, it’s generated 243 million dollars in profits.

“We are right at internal projections,” says Marcus Glover, Senior Vice President of Northeast Ohio Caesar’s Entertainment.

He considers the casino’s first year to be a pretty great start.

At the same time, he says there is no year to year comparison to be had until 2014.

Glover also says there have been issues with construction.

There’s a lot of work being down on the roadways in downtown Cleveland that lead to some very, very, congestive times of traffic.

Helping City Coffers

Cleveland City Controller Jim Gentile says the Horseshoe has had a largely positive impact.

He says through April 30th, the city’s received just under 9 million from casino tax in total.

Gentile adds that the downtown area is more vibrant, with hotel bookings up and local restaurants enjoying more business.

And Cleveland’s parking tax collections are up $2 million more than last year.

Gentile says it all adds up to a much needed boost to the city coffers.

“Fifteen percent of casino revenues are allocated towards council, and they have capital projects in their wards. The 85 percent goes to general fund. Part of that being used to increase police presence around casino, and public works to keep that area clean and safe.”

The county sees a gain from the casinos too, about $4.5 million so far, and another $8 million expected by year’s end.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald announced plans to put some of that money toward economic development projects, including the Flats East Bank and Playhouse Square.

There are shovels in the ground, there are cranes in the air, and things are getting done. What you’re seeing is, an optimistic period in Cleveland’s development future, that we have really just not seen for decades, and decades, and decades.

Fitzgerald says it’s worked out well, even if casino revenues are about 10 percent less than his office originally projected.

“It’s a little off what it was, but every little bit helps. And I think we’ve set a good pattern that I hope other communities will emulate,” Fitzgerald says.

“Because we’re putting all of it to try to keep the job creation engine humming along.”

Not Without Problems

In addition to tax money for the city and county, Ohio’s casinos have also generated something they’re less apt to publicize: problem gamblers.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission reports that calls to their HelpLine topped 500 in March.

And as of yesterday, 365 people have joined the Voluntary Exclusion Program, which bars them from entering the Horseshoe and other gaming establishments.

That’s an average of one person a day since the Horseshoe opened its doors.