CINCINNATI - The first visitors to Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, about to open downtown, say they had a good time at a dry run of the facility but hope that a few kinks get worked out before visiting again.
The casino held a special invitation-only, pre-opening event to give a select few members of the public and the media an eight-hour first look at what Rock Ohio Caesars LLC was able to create downtown during the past two years of construction.
Thousands of people who went to Wednesday's invite-only event posted their initial thoughts on social media.
"It was a robust demonstration with more than 6,200 guests," Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler said Thursday. "The casino was filled with people so all aspects of the casino were fully tested last night."
Some said it was difficult to get drinks, others reported long lines and some said a few dealers were making mistakes and moving slowly.
One specific function that slowed down drink orders was the only bar outside of the restaurants, the centralized Rock Bar and Lounge in the middle of the casino, was packed and utilizes an automated liquor pouring mechanism. The mechanism, much like a soda gun, requires bartenders to program in the amount of bottom-shelf liquor needed on a computer before the shot is poured, and can slow down the drink making process.
Others who visited the invite-only event praised the sleek look of the $400 million casino and the friendliness of the staff, while others bragged about winning money.
Tracy McCants said the casino did exceptionally well.
"First impression was beautiful, second impression was food and the third impression was a thousand slot machines," said McCants who said she lost $30 of the $50 she brought with her to gamble.
McCants was one of the more than 6,200 people from across the Tri-State to step inside the casino from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. She complimented the casino for its overall level of organization and how smoothly everything operated.
Anna Young was also impressed with the casino.
"The whole place is nice," said Young, who works downtown and appreciates the new dining options the casino offers. "It was really cool to walk around and see all the restaurants. We had nice glasses of wine at Jack Binion's so that was really nice."
The casino features multiple eateries including Jack Binion's Steak, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Bobby Flay's Bobby's Burger Palace, an all-you-can-eat buffet called the Spread Buffet and a casual Italian-style sandwich shop called Café Italia, all of which were operating at capacity during the event.
In addition to the luxuries Horseshoe Casino offers its guests, some of the minor conveniences the venue offers like the being smoke-free and the support it offers the local economy were appreciated by Young.
"It's great to support the neighborhood, OTR," Young said. "I don't think I'm going over to Indiana now, no reason."
"People were just delighted — cheering and chanting as they walked in," gaming public relations director Jennifer Kulczkcki said. "It was an energetic crowd and it was gamers, it was diners, it was people that just wanted to hang out in the lounge."
And it appears there will be plenty of returning gamers, as several hundred signed up for the casino's rewards program Wednesday night.
"We already have 250,000 total rewards members within about a 100-mile radius of Cincinnati and hundreds more signed up last night, so it's very encouraging," Kulczkcki said.
One reason some people may plan to avoid the new casino during the initial period after it opens is a fear of congestion both in the casino and on the roadways.
While crowds overran the inside of the downtown venue Wednesday night, Cincinnati police said they managed to keep traffic on Reading Road under control. People like Mike Krismer of Colerain said parking wasn't a major issue either.
If the Ohio Casino Control Commission finds there were no major problems during the dry run, the casino will open to the public on Monday.
9 On Your Side reporter Tom McKee and WCPO Digital web editor Casey Weldon contributed to this report.
Did you go? What did you think of the new casino? Leave a comment in the section below.
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