After a lengthy selection process, the world’s largest gaming company, Harrah’s Entertainment, was named the operator of the two Ohio casinos that will be owned by Rock Gaming, one of the two companies granted gaming franchises in a referendum last November. The other company is Penn National Gaming, which will own and operate casinos in Toledo and Columbus.
The casinos owned by Rock Ventures are located in Cleveland and Cincinnati. The company is controlled by Jeff Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. The agreement means Harrah’s will make an investment for a “significant minority interest” in the properties. The properties will be branded as Harrah’s casinos.
Harrah’s will contribute its recently acquired Cleveland-area Thistledown Racetrack to the pending joint venture. If the Ohio Lottery’s efforts to implement video lottery terminals at Ohio’s horse racing tracks are successful, the agreement calls for Harrah’s to manage Thistledown as well.
“Our team is certain that Harrah’s top-notch and innovative management team is completely aligned with our unwavering commitment to create and deliver projects that embrace and interact with the downtowns they serve,” Gilbert said
Gary Loveman, chairman and CEO of Harrah’s, said he is excited about the arrangement.
“We look forward to the opportunity to bring our casino brands, management expertise and Total Rewards customer loyalty program to Ohio,” he said in a release. “Harrah’s shares a common vision with Rock Gaming to develop and manage first-class urban-based casinos that will be a catalyst for economic expansion and job creation in both markets.”
The joint venture is expected to invest more than $600 million to develop the Cleveland casino, which will be located in the heart of the downtown entertainment district. The gaming operation is projected to attract 8 million visits to downtown Cleveland annually, while adding another high-profile attraction to Cleveland’s impressive sports, entertainment, music and cultural destinations. More than 8,000 construction and permanent jobs are expected to be created by the development and operation of the project.
The Cincinnati casino will be built on 20 acres of vacant property on the downtown’s northeast side known as Broadway Commons. The estimated $400 million new development is expected to drive 6 million visits to downtown Cincinnati, while creating nearly 4,900 construction and permanent jobs.