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Developers Unveil First Phase Of Downtown casino

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Developers of the new casino slated for downtown Cleveland today unveiled the plan for phase one or the project. Rock Ohio Caesars says it will provide 2000 construction jobs, and employ 1600 more when the casino opens. Our Changing Gears reporter Dan Bobkoff has more.

Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Early next year, downtown Cleveland will have a casino.
Developers will convert part of the long-closed Higbee Department Store at Public Square into four floors of gaming under the name Horseshoe Casino Cleveland.

LOVEMAN: And when it is finished, there will be everyday thousands of people visiting this building, coming to the casino, visiting the restaurants in the neighborhood.

That's Gary Loveman, the CEO of Caesars Entertainment, which will run the new casino. The developer is Dan Gilbert-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and founder of Michigan's Quicken Loans. In 2009, Ohio voters paved the way for this development by approving a constitutional amendment authorizing gaming in the state's four largest cities. The casino in the Higbee building has long been discussed as a temporary facility, for use until Rock Ohio completes a new, permanent casino a few blocks away by the Cuyahoga River. But since the company is spending 350 million on the Higbee site, it's hoping to keep it open much longer. Either way, at the unveiling, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said he's excited by the developers' commitment to the city and the economy:

JACKSON: They're actually talking about how can we hire people? How can we hire local vendors, local contractors and make this investment a stimulus for this economy and the people of this city and region.

Jackson says the casino will help transform Cleveland into what he called a 24 hour city.

Developers are trying to avoid the mistakes other cities have made with their casino developments that act like self-contained fortresses. Cleveland's casino is supposed to be integrated into the city and help nearby businesses and hotels. Dan Gilbert also plans to open a casino in Cincinnati by the end of next year. For Changing Gears, I'm Dan Bobkoff.

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