Up until recently, the state of Ohio was a casino-free territory. Citizens who wanted some table game fun or slot machine action had to travel to neighboring states like Michigan or Indiana for their gambling adventures. It took 20 years and five different statewide polls, but Ohio voters finally legalized gambling in 2009, when a constitutional amendment providing for the construction of four casinos was approved by a 53% majority. Over the past two years, four new casinos have sprung to life in Ohio: Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, Hollywood Casino Toledo, Hollywood Casino Columbus, and most recently, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati.
Ohio's Newest Addition: Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati
Downtown Cincinnati welcomed Horseshoe Casino guests for the first time with fireworks and live music on March 4, 2013. "We saved the best for last," Mayor Mark Mallory told a crowd of eager gamblers, referring to the already-finished construction of Ohio's other three casinos. On its opening day, the $400 million Horseshoe Cincinnati ushered a flood of gamblers and other curious Ohioans in from the cold winter weather, where they enjoyed 100,000 feet of gambling space including 2,000 slot machines and 85 table games.
For gamblers' dining pleasure, the casino offers Jack Binion's Steak House, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville restaurant, and Bobby Flay's Burger Place #14. Flay, who was in town for the opening of the restaurant, likened the atmosphere of Cincinnati's Horseshoe to an authentic Vegas casino. Although the Horseshoe does not feature an attached hotel, numerous accommodations exist in nearby downtown Cincinnati for travelers to enjoy.
Anticipated revenue for the casino is $227 million the first year, which would yield about $75 million in tax revenue. The casino's gross income will be taxed at 33%, one of the higher resort tax rates in the country. Officials plan to put hefty portion of that money toward public education.
Horseshoe Casino Cleveland
Cleveland's branch of the Horseshoe Casino boasts on its website that its 96,000 square feet of gambling space offers "best odds, highest limits, and biggest jackpots." Opened in May of 2012, the 24-hour facility features 89 table games and 1,900 slot machines. The machines range from penny slots to a $500 high roller model. Like the Cincinnati branch of the Horseshoe Casino, there is no attached hotel. Suitable accommodations may be found, however, at the nearby Ritz Carlton, Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, and Cleveland Marriott.
Local and regional gamblers who wish to take a day trip to Cleveland's casino can hop aboard a Lakefront Lines bus at one of many nearby pick-up cities and travel for only $10 to the casino. During their stay, gamblers can enjoy a meal at The Spread Buffet, where prices range from $10 to $26 depending on the time of day. Patrons may also visit one of many Cleveland restaurants with which the casino has partnered for a delicious meal. The Tower City Shopping Mall offers a retail therapy break for those who desire it, and is conveniently located right next to the casino.
Hollywood Casino Toledo
Opened in May of 2012, the Hollywood Casino Toledo features 125,000 square feet of gambling space. Patrons can enjoy any of 60 table games and over 2,000 slot machines in this smoke-free facility. Like the other Ohio casinos, there is no attached hotel, but guests can take advantage of special local lodging rates that have been negotiated by the casino. Restaurants include Epic Buffet, Take 2 Grill, a steak and seafood house called Final Cut, and Scene, an upscale sports bar.
Hollywood Casino Toledo features several entertainment acts per week. Patrons can subscribe to a monthly newsletter to keep abreast of the casino's latest attractions and promotions, including the current "Camaro and Cash" giveaway in which numerous cash prizes and one Camaro will be given away at a drawing.
Hollywood Casino Columbus
The Hollywood Casino Columbus opened in October 2012 and features 24-hour, 7-day gambling. Patrons enjoy over 3,000 slot machines and over 70 table games. Some notable featured artists scheduled to perform in March 2013 include the popular band Everclear and the hilarious comedian Carlos Mencia. The Hollywood Columbus also takes pride in featuring local Columbus musicians in live performances.
Hollywood Casino Columbus is a casino with a conscience. Its website outlines a dress code for all patrons which basically requires them to dress appropriately, with no transparent clothing or low-cut pants that reveal too much skin. It has established charitable partnerships with several organizations, including the YMCA, the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, and the Salvation Army.
Sweepstakes Cafes in Ohio
Although gambling was illegal in Ohio until 2009, sweepstakes cafes have been in operation since before that time. These "storefront casinos" are cafes in which slot-like games are played to a predetermined result. Customers invest money and play a slot game to find out if they purchased a winning bid. Many people consider this to be illicit gambling; as such, lawmakers have been taking steps since December to ban sweepstakes cafes. Some speculate that the elimination of the cafes in Ohio would boost revenue at legitimate casinos.
Legalized Casino Gambling: A New Horizon of Fun and Profit for Ohio
Four years ago, Ohio citizens elected to legalize gambling and install casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, and Columbus. The citizens had one basic goal in mind: to stimulate Ohio's economy and rake in significant revenue for the state's school system and law enforcement agencies. The four new casinos are deluxe, million dollar facilities which, in compliance with Ohio law, forbid smoking. Plenty of slot machine and table game opportunities can be found at Ohio's four new casinos.
While projected revenue for Ohio's casinos has declined considerably from its original figure of $2 billion, the state will still profit from their new gambling venture. Expected revenue for 2013 is just under $1 billion. This money will have a significant impact on Ohio's public education and law enforcement funding. If lawmakers are able to outlaw and eliminate sweepstakes cafes in Ohio, revenue may soar to even higher amounts.