Ohio's 1st casino 3 months off: No slots in sight

THOMAS J. SHEERAN
December 13, 2011
Tradesmen work on the main floor of the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland under construction in an old department store in Cleveland Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011.  Nearly 8,500 people filed online applications since Monday, applying for 750 non-gaming jobs. The casino, which is scheduled to open in late March, plans a total workforce of nearly 1,600. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
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Tradesmen work on the main floor of the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland under construction in an old department store in Cleveland Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. Nearly 8,500 people filed online applications since Monday, applying for 750 non-gaming jobs. The casino, which is scheduled to open in late March, plans a total workforce of nearly 1,600. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

CLEVELAND (AP) — There were no slot machines in sight, but the leadership of Ohio's first casino offered good odds Tuesday that it will meet its deadline to open by late March.

"We've been working very hard in trying to get caught up to speed and get this casino to be the first casino open in the state of Ohio," said Nate Forbes, who is directing casino design and architecture for Rock Gaming, partners with Caesars Entertainment.

There are two 10-hour construction shifts working on the renovation, with nearly 700 people at work in all.

When finished, the casino will have 2,011 slot machines, 63 table games and a 30-table poker room.

The site was opened for an invitation-only media tour as workers continued to hammer, saw and assemble wiring, ventilation and ceiling fixtures in the former Higbee department store, which will be the initial phase of the casino.

A second, new-construction phase will be built later.

Unlike the second phase, the Higbee building — featured prominently in the 1983 film "A Christmas Story" — will offer customers a sense of history, said Jeff Cohen, who leads casino construction for Rock Gaming.

"If you come in here, if you've seen the movie, if you saw what this looked like the day that it opened, there's going to be a lot of memories in this place that you'll be able to see," a hard-hatted Cohen said over the din of construction equipment.

"We kept a lot of the historical elements here. The columns have all been restored to their original condition," he said, and original doors were kept.

The layout, as detailed by the casino:

— The street level, connecting to the Tower City retail-office complex and overlooking Public Square in the heart of downtown Cleveland, will have slots, table games and a bar.

— The second floor will have slots, table games and a food court with three outlets.

— The third floor will have a World Series of Poker room.

— The basement will have a 400-seat buffet restaurant.

Six-hundred prospective dealers selected from 12,000 applicants began training last week and an additional 750 non-gaming jobs, including chefs and security guards, were posted Monday. The casino received more than 8,500 applications in the first 24 hours.

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Online:

Horseshoe Casino Cleveland: http://www.HorseshoeCleveland.com