AP News

Cincinnati casino on pace to open in spring


CINCINNATI (AP) — Leaders of Ohio's fourth voter-approved casino on Thursday revealed the inside of the sleek $400 million facility, which they said is on track to open in Cincinnati in the spring, on time and on budget.

More than 500 construction workers were slapping on drywall, painting ceilings and laying concrete at the 400,000-square-foot, two-story casino, which sits just off Interstate 71 in a heavily trafficked part of Cincinnati's downtown.

The casino will include three outward-facing restaurants, a buffet, 85 table games, a VIP players' lounge with high limits and a World Series of Poker room.

Kevin Kline, general manager of Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, and other executives clad in business suits and hard hats led reporters on a tour of the soft amber-colored casino in its first public reveal.

Kline said the building was designed to flow and blend in with downtown, pointing to an urban plaza with green space in front of the main entrance and individual entrances for the restaurants, including singer Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.

"That flow is something that's very important to us," Kline said over the sound of beeping forklifts inside the casino. "We want to be a big contributor for reinvesting money back into the community and creating a destination that really helps further the vitality and vibrancy of downtown Cincinnati."

The casino is among many new projects that are revitalizing and changing the face of downtown Cincinnati, including a 41-story office tower that opened last year, a partially finished riverfront park, a $600 million retail and residential development known as The Banks and a new streetcar line that just recently broke ground.

In the nearby Over-the-Rhine historic district, the city and a nonprofit developer also have restored dozens of bedraggled buildings, attracted trendy new restaurants and bars, and reopened a popular urban park after a $48 million renovation.

All that on top of the relatively new downtown stadiums of the Bengals and the Reds, which are about a 20-minute walk from the casino.

Kline wants the casino to work with the ever-changing puzzle of downtown and Over-the-Rhine. He wants locals to stop by after they catch a game and to attract out-of-town visitors.

"We want to create a sense of arrival," he said.

Jim Hess, site executive for the project's builder — Cincinnati-based Messer — said the exterior of the casino is about 90 percent finished, while the interior is about 20 percent done.

He estimated that overall, the project is about 75 percent complete.

The casino will be the last of four casinos approved by voters in 2009 to open in Ohio after a statewide legalization campaign touted the immediate boost the casinos would give to Ohio's economy. Casinos in Cleveland and Toledo opened this year, and a casino in Columbus is set to open next month.

The casinos' gross revenues will be taxed at 33 percent, among the highest rates in the country, and will go toward public school districts, cities and counties, the state's gambling commission and law enforcement training, among other programs.

Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati projects that it will generate $100 million in gaming tax revenue every year.

The casino is being developed by Rock Gaming LLC and Caesars Entertainment Corp.; Caesars will manage day-to-day operations.

The casino began accepting applications for some of its expected 1,700 openings last month. More than 4,300 people have applied so far, according to Rock Gaming.

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Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP


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