Rock Gaming LLC – Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati

In 2009, voters in Ohio approved an amendment to the state constitution to allow casinos in the state’s four largest cities. To take advantage of the new opportunity this development afforded them, Rock Gaming LLC joined forces with Caesars Entertainment Corp. to build and operate casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

The joint venture, known as Rock Ohio Caesars, opened its Cleveland casino in May 2012, and now all eyes are on Cincinnati. Rock Gaming Principal Steve Rosenthal says the impact of the new casino will be felt in the thousands of new jobs created by the project.

Not only has the project created nearly 2,000 construction jobs, but the completed casino will hire approximately 1,700 people. According to Rock Gaming, the casino has committed to hiring at least 90 percent of its employees from the Cincinnati metropolitan area. In addition to the creation of new jobs, the casino is expected to generate more than $100 million each year in gaming tax revenue, which will be split between the state, the city, Hamilton County and the Hamilton County school districts.

Rock Gaming is a gaming partnership formed to take advantage of the new opportunities in Ohio as well as other gaming opportunities in the Midwest. The company’s chairman is Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans Inc. and owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Rock Gaming and Caesars also have teamed up on Turfway Park, a horseracing track in northern Kentucky, Thistledown Raceway, outside of Cleveland, and are developing a full-service casino in downtown Baltimore.

Prestige Project

Both the Cleveland and Cincinnati casinos have been branded as Horseshoe casinos, which for more than 60 years has been one of the most respected gaming brands in the nation. Horseshoe Cincinnati is being developed on a 20-acre site formerly known as Broadway Commons in downtown Cincinnati, and the company says it expects the new casino to draw more than 6 million visits to the city each year.

Rosenthal says the plans for Horseshoe Cincinnati make it a truly urban casino, featuring three outward-facing restaurants and a pedestrian-friendly outdoor plaza to draw in foot traffic from downtown’s surrounding cultural, nightlife and sports attractions. Horseshoe Cincinnati’s guest amenities will also include a buffet restaurant, a fast-casual restaurant, a VIP lounge, a coffee shop and a feature bar located on gaming floor. The company says it will begin discussing partnerships with nearby hotels and restaurants this year.

The main gaming floor will measure approximately 100,000 square feet, according to Rosenthal. It will include 2,000 slot machines, 85 table games and a 31-table World Series of Poker room. In total, the two-story casino building will encompass nearly 400,000 square feet and offer about 33,000 square feet of multipurpose and special-function space on its second level. A 2,500-space parking facility is being built on the site for guests and employees.

Getting It Done

Rosenthal says making sure the casino adheres to the character of downtown Cincinnati was a high priority for the project team, and the joint venture received a lot of constructive input from the city to help make that possible. Unlike the Cleveland project, which was a retrofit, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is being built from the ground up.

“In our model that we built, it’s an inside-out type of building,” Rosenthal says.

Although the project is being built primarily as a steel-and-concrete structure, the use of precast stone and brick on the building’s exterior helps it blend into the downtown area. With the inclusion of the outdoor plaza and street-level dining options, Rosenthal says, making sure the casino fit the feel of the neighborhood was of vital importance.

The Right Team

Also critical to the success of the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati project has been the assembly of a quality team of subcontractors, and the joint venture says it has counted on the Cincinnati market to supply it with top-notch partners. “As construction continues, we will need qualified design and construction companies to help transform this former 22-acre surface parking lot into [a] first-class gaming destination,” the project website says.

Rock Ohio Caesars has put together a solid team of contractors that include Cincinnati-based Queen City Blacktop, Jostin Construction, Mayers Electric Company, Valley Interior System and CHC Manufacturing Inc.

Within this team, the joint venture says equal opportunity was essential. Prior to groundbreaking, the venture retained the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce has to help engage local construction companies in the project. Rosenthal says the joint venture was adamant about giving local contractors a fair shake at getting involved in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati project.

“It was a priority for us to provide equal opportunities for construction and design companies of all shapes and sizes,” according to Rosenthal.

Rosenthal says construction on the project has proceeded as planned since it got underway in February 2011. At more than 75 percent completion as of mid-October, Rosenthal says the project will open to the public in spring 2013 after an open date is granted by the state’s casino regulatory body.

After that, he says, the entire community will have the opportunity to see first-hand how the project will change the Cincinnati landscape for years to come.

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