Construction on Cincinnati Casino suspended

Artist Rendering of the Cincinnati Horseshoe Casino
Artist Rendering of the Cincinnati Horseshoe Casino

The developer of a casino that was being built in Cincinnati announced Wednesday that construction on the casino will be suspended, effective immediately.

A release sent out by Rock Gaming LLC, the developer of Cincinnati's Horseshoe Casino, states that the reason for the suspension is due to the "environment of uncertainty concerning the projected economic vitality of our planned developments."

In recent months, Ohio Governor John Kasich has said that the state of Ohio got a "bad deal" when Ohio voted for the Casinos in the November 2009 election. The state House made a proposal during the last round of budget talks that would require the facilities to pay taxes on what bettors spend as well as what they win. Rock Gaming contends the constitutional amendment requires payment of taxes only on wagers, not winnings.

This has resulted in tension between Rock Gaming and the State of Ohio.

In April, Rock Gaming President Matt Cullen said he was waiting to order tens of millions of dollars worth of steel that would be used to build the framework of the casino until this tension was resolved.

Now, Rock Gaming is saying that construction is suspended entirely until "a reliable State economic environment is in place."

Governor Kasich's office released a statement on the suspended casino construction, which said:

"The state has hired gaming consultants to ensure that Ohio taxpayers are being treated fairly, and we look forward to hearing their recommendations. The governor doesn't oppose gambling and wants the casinos to be successful, and we are confident that a resolution can be reached that will be in the best interest of Ohioans. Ohio's gaming laws have been cobbled together over decades, without regard for how different types of gaming fit in with or impact others, and therefore a comprehensive policy will help inform the governor's decisions moving forward."

State Representative Denise Driehaus released a statement about the suspended casino construction, which said:

"The citizens of Cincinnati spoke on this issue and there is overwhelming support for casinos," said Rep. Driehaus.  "Our number one priority should be jobs.  We need to create an atmosphere that's business friendly, not change the rules after the voters have spoken.  I think it's a shame that the casinos have now been compelled to stop their project and potentially scale back the number of jobs that would have been created."

Rock Gaming has also suspended construction at the site of its Cleveland casino.

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