Ind., Ky. brace for new casino in Cincinnati
CINCINNATI (AP) — With a glistening $400 million casino set to open in downtown Cincinnati, officials and casino executives in two neighboring states are looking at the development with trepidation as they prepare to watch tax dollars flow into Ohio.
Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is all but guaranteed to dip into Indiana's casino revenues, which have steadily declined in the past few years. For Kentucky, Cincinnati's casino represents money that it could be, but isn't, making.
The casino will open Monday night after more than two years of construction. It will be the last of four casinos that Ohio voters approved in 2009 after a statewide campaign touted the immediate boost the casinos would give to Ohio's economy.
Casinos in Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus all opened over the past year and have brought in nearly $404 million combined. From that, about $133.2 million has gone to Ohio schools, counties and cities.
Cincinnati's casino is projected to draw about $227 million in gross revenue in its first year. That would bring in about $75 million in taxes.
Though those figures are far lower than earlier estimates, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory hailed the casino as a regional and national destination ahead of its opening.
"It's a home run," Mallory said. "This casino will have the ability to draw people from all around the country. ... This is a top-line casino, and the people who are accustomed to the big casinos in Vegas, they're not going to miss anything here."
Though no hotels are attached, and nothing quite compares to the energy or spectacle of the Vegas strip, Mallory referred to the Cincinnati casino's bustling location on what used to be a run-down parking lot and ticked off amenities including a buffet, a VIP players' lounge with high limits, a World Series of Poker room and three outward-facing restaurants, including Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and Bobby's Burger Palace by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. Both Buffett and Flay also have outposts in Las Vegas.
Across the state line in Indiana, casinos and state leaders have been bracing for the development.
"The hovering threat to Indiana's dominance in commercial casino revenues among its sister states is evolving into reality," Ernest Yelton, executive director of Indiana's Gaming Commission, wrote in a 2012 annual report to Gov. Mitch Daniels. Nearly all of Indiana's 13 gambling venues would be affected, he added, "some dearly."
Over the past two decades, Indiana's casino industry has brought in $10 billion in taxes to become the state's third-largest revenue source after sales and income taxes.
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