asino gaming, including the development of four new casinos statewide, was approved by Ohio voters in a constitutional referendum in November 2009. The state will receive us$ 200 million in total upfront license fees for the four casinos, which will be used for job training and workforce development. Rock has signed to develop the casinos in Cleveland and in Cincinnati, and Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming will develop the casinos in Toledo and Columbus. Penn recently dropped Lakes Entertainment, its former planned partner in the casinos, in exchange for a us$ 25 million cash payment.
Dan Gilbert, principal of Rock Gaming, said the venture with Harrah’s would stimulate new growth in the urban cores of Cincinnati and Cleveland. He is also founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, as well as the majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. A spokeswoman for Gilbert told GlobeSt.com that the company knew it needed a casino-expert partner. “We’re not a gaming company,” she says. “They have the industry knowledge, the rewards programs, those extras that we do not.” The joint venture is subject to final agreements expected in the next few months.
The us$ 600 million Cleveland casino is planned for a spot along the Cuyahoga River, near Huron Street, in the downtown, to be completed by 2013. However, the venture hopes to obtain a gaming license this year and break ground on a temporary casino in the former Higbee Department Store building, to open next year.
The venture plans to build the us$ 400 million Cincinnati casino on 20 acres at Broadway Commons, at the corners of Broadway, Reading Road and Court Street. This site is expected to break ground later this year, and open in 2012.
Harrah’s would also contributing its recently-acquired Thistledown Racetrack in Cleveland to the venture. The gaming company plans to manage the track if video lottery terminals are approved in the state.