CINCINNATI - A new era in the Cincinnati gaming industry was ushered in Wednesday when the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati opened its doors to the public for the first time.
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.
The event also allowed the casino staff to hold a test run before casino patrons rush through the front doors of the $400 million venue on Monday.
So, how did Horseshoe Casino do during its debut run? If Tracy McCants' opinion is any indication, it 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 about 15,000 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."
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.
"As soon as I parked my car, I got in," Krismer said.
Casino staff and patrons hope things run as smoothly Monday.
9 On Your Side reporter Amy Wadas contributed to this report