CINCINNATI - Jack has seen your $16.9 million, Cincinnati. And he would like to raise it to $20 million.
“I would like to think we can,” said Chad Barnhill, senior vice president and general manager at the former Horseshoe casino that will re-open later this week as Jack Cincinnati Casino.
Barnhill led local media on a tour of the property Tuesday, describing how staffers are replacing more than 200 signs, 50,000 decks of cards, 13,000 dice and more than 500,000 poker chips with the new Jack logo. The casino closed at 11:59 p.m. Monday and will reopen at 4 p.m. Wednesday, pending regulatory approval.
It’s all part of a rebranding effort aimed at boosting revenue for the Cincinnati property, which peaked at $21 million in its first full month three years ago but hasn’t climbed above $18 million since March, 2014.
In an interview with WCPO, Barnhill said the retooled casino has “the complete package to be able to” once again reach $20 million in monthly revenue, but he declined to put a time frame on that goal.
“That’s the real question mark,” he said. “It takes time to change consumer behavior. We’re making a lot of changes that our customers are going to love.”
Among those changes is a new loyalty program called Club Jack, which touts faster-accruing rewards and a soon-to-be-announced roster of well-known travel partners.
“We’re going to have a Las Vegas partner, a Caribbean partner, a cruise line partner,” Barnhill said. “So, all the things they love about the previous loyalty-card programs they’re going to get with Jack as well. Plus, they’ll enjoy all the benefits of earning points faster as it relates to free slot play and other amenities.”
Barnhill wants to add up to 30 new table games at the Downtown casino, which now has 96 tables.
“We’re not going to do that at opening. But that continues to be a robust part of our business that we’ll continue to rebuild,” he said. “I think somewhere around that 120 mark is probably the sweet spot, especially on your Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights and your holiday time frames.”
The Jack Binion Steak House will be replaced by Prism, a restaurant that touts an eclectic menu of steaks, seafood and pasta. The newly-named Market District Buffet is planning a special “summer price” promotion that’s “about half” the price of the prior Horseshoe buffet offering, Barnhill said.
Those new amenities will combine with the casino’s existing concerts and community partnerships to get more customers to sample Jack Cincinnati and convert from other loyalty programs to Club Jack.
“What we’re building here is just a progressive spirit,” Barnhill said. “It’s an attitude to have fun and let loose a little bit.”
Reaching $20 million would mean an increase of more than 15 percent from the $16.9 million in monthly revenue that the Downtown casino achieved in the first four months of 2016. It would require much better growth than the city of Cincinnati is expecting from the property. The city’s most recent budget estimates call for no growth in casino revenue through 2017.
Ohio gaming expert Alan Silver said a 15 percent revenue increase is a tall order for Jack Cincinnati, but 5 to 10 percent is achievable.
"That’s a beautiful property. The gaming revenue should be higher, there’s no doubt," said Silver, an assistant professor who teaches restaurant and hotel tourism at Ohio University. "It’s all about adding valued, loyal customers and expanding the database. That takes time. It takes time to bring them around and keep them coming back."
A Jack Entertainment spokeswoman stressed that Barnhill wasn’t projecting a 15 percent increase for the Cincinnati property, but merely agreed it’s a good long-term goal.
“It’s never enough, that’s my goal,” Barnhill said. “My real goal is to make sure we provide a great customer experience. The rest of it will take care of itself.”