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A Year Later, Horseshoe Casino Largely Delivers

The Public Square entrance to the Horseshoe Cleveland (pic by Brian Bull)
The Public Square entrance to the Horseshoe Cleveland (pic by Brian Bull)

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 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.”

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.

“15 percent of casino revenues are allocated towards (city) council, and they have capital projects in their wards," explains Gentile. "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," says Fitzgerald. "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. Because we’re putting all of it to try to keep the job creation engine humming along.”

But 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.