CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - First there was the Horseshoe. Then there was the Miami Valley Gaming. Now there is Belterra Park, the newest option for gambling in the Tri-State is set to open its doors on Thursday.
The 122-acre facility is a $300 million investment that sits on the old River Downs site right next to Riverbend and Coney Island in Anderson.
The hope is that this investment pays some big dividends for Anderson Township. Belterra Park has more than 1,500 gaming machines, restaurants and racing. That's a nice start to what township officials and area businesses hope will spur some serious development in the area.
"I think it will be great for the business. I've been here 16 years waiting for this to open," said Pradeep Varma, who owns a gas station nearby the racino.
Varma says most of his business typically comes in the summer alongside events at Riverbend and Coney Island.
"This was a strictly seasonal store. We did business during the summer months and the rest of the months were pretty hectic trying to pay the bills," said Varma.
But, they had a strong winter this year thanks to business from hundreds of construction workers at the facility. He's hoping Belterra Park will drive business all year long and has plans to expand and hire more employees.
Business expansion is also the plan for township officials.
"We are very excited. It's an understatement. This has been a long time coming," said Josh Gerth, a trustee in Anderson Township.
That excitement translates to an increase in property values, potential for millions in tax revenue and a boom of riverfront development.
"The idea that the old River Downs is going to become something bigger, better that may transform that whole area down there and spark other interest and other development is definitely part of our riverfront plan," said Gerth.
Gerth hopes those plans could include housing, hotels and restaurants. Nothing is set in stone yet, but he says they have heard from interested parties about taking a look at the area.
"You already have Riverbend. You've already got Coney Island. You've got quite a unique riverfront dynamic down there already. This should only add to all the excitement," Gerth told FOX19.
Belterra Park's biggest competition sits about nine miles away in the Horseshoe Casino. FOX19 asked casino officials about their closest competition opening its doors. Shannon Mortland, director of public relations for the Ohio region of Caesar's Entertainment says:
"Horseshoe Cincinnati was designed as an entertainment destination and full-service casino, including table games, a World Series of Poker room, a variety of slot machines, and partnerships with downtown entertainment venues, hotels and restaurants. As such, we offer a different product than racinos."
Having been open for more than a year, Horseshoe has had time to test and refine its entertainment options based on the needs and wishes of our guests. Though the Ohio market has ramped up slower than anticipated, we strongly believe it still has room to grow and we look forward to continuing to entertain our guests."
Belterra Park opens to the public Thursday at 7 p.m.