CINCINNATI — Standing inside the glittering, 400,000-square-foot Horseshoe Casino in the heart of this city’s downtown, Steve Rosenthal sounded like a happy man as he greeted an Indiana reporter who’d come for sneak peek of Ohio’s newest gambling hall.
As a partner in Rock Gaming, the company developing the $400 million venue which opened Monday, he’s counting on Ohio’s neighbors to cross the state border with fistfuls of cash and credit cards in hand.
“I would love to have Hoosiers come visit us,” said Rosenthal. “The casino is just one more reason to come to Cincinnati.”
Sounds so cordial, doesn’t it?
But Ohio’s decision to get into the lucrative world of gaming is posing a serious threat to Indiana’s share of casino dollars and prompting a statehouse debate on how to respond.
When Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati officially opens, it will be the fourth big-city casino launched in the Buckeye state in 10 months — and the closest one to the Indiana border. In location and amenities, it’s designed to be enticing: Just a short hop off the interstates that run through the city, the upscale casino is fronted by a crystal-chandeliered, glass-walled entryway that offers a sweeping view of the city’s downtown.
Open 24/7, it features 2,000 slot machines, 87 table games, a VIP players’ lounge with limits as high as $50,000 a hand, a World Series of Poker room, a private bar for big spenders, (and one for low-rollers, too), and three outward-facing restaurants, including singer Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.
Also inside: 1,700 friendly employees, eager to make you feel welcome enough to willingly part with your money.
Ohioans long resisted Las Vegas-style gambling, sure of the ills it would bring. Three times, the state’s voters turned down gambling measures on the ballot before finally approving legalized casinos in 2009.