CINCINNATI - Wednesday’s preview of Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati mostly went well but there were some minor concerns about security and surveillance, an Ohio gaming official said.
Appearing at a City Hall press conference Friday afternoon, a staffer with the Ohio Casino Control Commission praised Horseshoe’s staff and said they seem well trained during the preview.
“We really think they did a good job" at the soft opening, said Karen Huey, the commission’s law enforcement director.
Under state law, the commission must observe how the casino operates during a dry run before it opens permanently and suggest changes, if necessary.
"We did ask them to make some changes," Huey added, but she wouldn't elaborate.
Kevin Kline, the new casino’s vice president and general manager, said the recommendations had to do with “security and surveillance,” but also declined to provide details. The changes would be made before Monday night’s grand opening, he added.
About 15,000 people visited during an eight-hour period during the preview.
"Like anything when you open for the first time, there are things you can improve on,” Kline said. “There are things we need to respond to."
Rick Janke, a retired Cincinnati assistant police chief, serves as the casino’s security director. He said more people showed up at the beginning of the preview than expected, causing long lines to enter the facility.
“We experienced a lot of excitement and a bit of a choke point at the soft opening," Janke said.
Casino personnel have learned from the experience and hope to avoid those problems Monday night.
Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati will open to the general public at 8:30 p.m. Monday. Because the casino plans to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it will never close its doors after that time.
People who want to visit the casino Monday may begin lining up at a staging area Court Street and Eggleston Avenue beginning at 6 p.m., city officials said.
Anyone who tries to line up before 6 p.m. will be cleared from the area, they added.
Also, the casino’s parking garage will be closed to the public until midnight Monday, to provide spaces for special guests at the grand opening. They include Mayor Mark Mallory.
To compensate for the loss of spaces, Horseshoe is offering a free shuttle service from the Central Riverfront Garage in The Banks district. It will run from 6 p.m. Monday until 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls praised the casino’s owners for working cooperatively with city officials during the planning and construction of the facility.
“It is a great day,” Qualls said. “We have worked tirelessly in partnership to accomplish a lot of things.”
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. liked that Rock Gaming and Caesars Entertainment Corp., the casino’s owners, developed the 23-acre site so it wouldn’t be isolated from surrounding neighborhoods.
“The casino shouldn't be an oasis,” Dohoney said. “The neighborhoods should feel the growth and excitement and development opportunities this is bringing us."
During Opening Night, some Cincinnati police officers will be patrolling the casino area as "rovers," using bikes & Segways.
City officials also advised people who work in the uptown area and may use Reading Road or Gilbert Avenue during the evening rush hour to find alternate routes, as traffic probably will be heavy for the opening.
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