Photos from inside the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, scheduled to open March 4, 2013, in downtown Cincinnati. Kareem Elgazzar | WCPO Digital Kareem Elgazzar | WCPO Digital
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Horseshoe Cincinnati Casino releases economic impact data for first six months of operation

GM: We wanted to be a game changer

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CINCINNATI - Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati boosted hotel occupancy rates and pumped $43,000 into the cash drawers of 10 downtown restaurants in its first six months of operation, according to numbers released by the casino Thursday.

The numbers are intended to show casino operators made good on their promise to have an “outward facing” facility that ties into the Cincinnati business community and encourages economic development beyond its property line.

“We wanted to be a game changer,” said General Manager Kevin Kline of the casino that opened March 4.  "We want to be a catalyst for continued vibrancy and economic development here in the downtown Cincinnati area and I feel like the numbers support that.”

Among the numbers released:

  • The casino attracted 2.7 million guests in its first six months.
  • Casino guests have booked 23,000 room nights at 10 partner hotels in downtown Cincinnati and Covington, Ky.
  • Ten partner restaurants have received more than $43,000 for meals awarded to casino guests.
  • The casino has spent $800,000 with local vendors, including Graeter's, Busken and Servatii bakeries, Montgomery Inn and Queen City Sausage.
  • It spent $450,000 on local sponsorships and awarded $65,000 to Cincinnati charities.
  • Horseshoe Casino team members have volunteered more than 300 hours for community causes.

Westin Cincinnati Hotel has been able to use Horseshoe Casino business to supplement the corporate travel business that typically fills the hotel on weekdays.

“It’s meaningful to us because it comes in what we consider to be off-peak periods,” said Westin General Manager Wayne Bodington.  “To the extent that we have down periods, it’s more inclined to be on the weekends. So, it’s great filler business for us.”

Bodington and Kline said casino customers seem to be happy with a circulating shuttle that takes gamblers to and from downtown hotels, but Kline said it’s too early to say whether Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati will build its own hotel someday.

“We’re only six months into this,” he said. “The room nights are exceeding expectations and in a very good place. And I think customers are enjoying the ability to experience all of the amenities that Cincinnati has to offer … We’re just happy with where we are. It’s been a great six months.”

Some of the Horseshoe Cincinnati numbers are on a pace to be substantially lower than those racked up in the first year of operation for Cleveland’s Horseshoe Casino. There, restaurants redeemed $2.4 million in meals from casino guests, compared to $43,000 through six months in Cincinnati. Kline said Cleveland’s numbers are skewed by its lack of on-site dining options. Both have restaurant buffets, but Cleveland has three "quick bite" eateries, while Cincinnati has Jack Binion's steakhouse, Bobby Flay's Burger Palace and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant.

Cleveland hotels received 61,000 room nights from casino guests and first-year sponsorship revenue reached $2.2 million. As the Horseshoe property grows, it is emerging as a competitor to existing entertainment venues, hotels and restaurants.

For example, its summer concert series sold 42,000 tickets for 16 live events to date. And its meeting rooms have hosted 185 meetings averaging more than 350 guests at each event. Kline is convinced that growth is accruing to the region’s benefit by growing Cincinnati’s tourism trade.

“As the tide rises, everyone rises with it,” he said. “We’re filling more rooms, bringing more groups, bringing more association and city-wide business to Cincinnati.”

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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