CLEVELAND - So who's really cashing in on Ohio’s casinos?
9 On Your Side hit the road to find out.
We went to Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati's sister, Horseshoe Cleveland to find out if things have changed for better or worse since it opened downtown last May.
It all starts on the gambling floor, at the slots, tables and poker room. It's an economic bet that's bringing in about $20 million dollars a month and it's stimulating sales for some Cleveland restaurants and businesses.
John Q's Steakhouse is a landmark Cleveland restaurant, and one of Horseshoe Cleveland's external restaurant partners. Horseshoe gamblers can earn vouchers at the casino that can be redeemed for meals at partner restaurants, like John Q's. Rick Cassara, the restaurant's owner, says his sales were up 10 percent in January, compared to last year.
Cassara says the casino and other tourism additions to Cleveland are bringing people back to the city.
"I'm hearing people say, we haven't been downtown for a while, we came downtown to see the casino and we thought we'd have dinner," said Rick Cassara, owner John Q's.
Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati's external restaurant partners are:
In Cleveland, new businesses are popping up near the casino and it's boosting business across the city.
"The cabs are busy, the hotel occupancy rates are better than they were even last year, all of the activities that benefit from the tourism," said Cassara.
This was certainly the case for Cynthia Kline, owner of Room 2 Room, a local design firm. She won the three year contract for holiday decorations in the casino. Horseshoe Cleveland was built in the historic Higbee building, which was featured in scenes of "A Christmas Story." Kline gave the casino kudos for reaching out to her about the bidding opportunity.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for a company who comes in that's known all over the world and they really try to reach out to the community and place jobs within the local community. I think it's phenomenal of Horseshoe Casino to do that," said Kline.
Kline started Room 2 Room with her sister 10 years ago. Now, tens of thousands have seen her work. December was one of the casino's best months, with people coming downtown for the holidays.
"It puts us on the map, for everything; residential, commercial, holiday," said Kline.
The money is trickling down from the casino to the businesses. Those businesses are hiring employees who are spending their money in the local economy and that increases our tax revenue.
"The employee, the average employee is making more money, the work is steadier, some disposable income and they're spending it here in Cleveland," said Cassara.
The casino is bringing people downtown. Horseshoe Cleveland GM Marcus Glover told 9 On Your Side that they've spent more than $1 million in food covers with local restaurants and more than $2 million in sponsorships with local sports teams and other venues downtown.
"We've had quite a few people early on who said they haven't been downtown in 10 years, hadn't been downtown in one year. So to hear that, that this venue brought people back downtown and those folks will come here but hopefully they'll go to other establishments downtown and everyone wins when that happens," said Glover.
In Ohio, the casinos will pay a 33 percent tax on gross revenue. This is the fourth highest in the country.
If things go for Cincinnati like they did in Cleveland, with 2.5 million visitors in the first six months, our downtown will see people who haven’t been there in decades.
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