Rust Belt rolls dice and builds new casinos

Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois are on board with casinos, hoping to drive tourism to down-on-their-luck communities. Now Ohio is getting into the game.

Adriene Hill: Ohio is betting big on casinos. The state is opening up gambling later this year in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo.  And Ohio's joining a long list of states who have turned to gambling as a a way to attract tourists and raise money.

From WCPN in Cleveland, Brian Bull reports.


Brian Bull: The Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland is one of four being built in Ohio. They're expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Last December, part of the Horseshoe's parking garage collapsed under wet concrete.

But Chris Warren has a lucky feeling about the casino. He's the city's chief of regional development.

Chris Warren: It's fair to say that on an annual basis that there will be millions of dollars of new property, income and parking taxes flowing to the city of Cleveland, and that's good.

Warren says up to 15 million people a year will visit the Horseshoe. He expects annual revenues up to $30 million.

Marcus Glover is the casino's general manager. He says local businesses and attractions will cash in, too.

Marcus Glover: We'll spend a lot of time positioning the property of Horseshoe Cleveland. It's, 'Come to Cleveland and go the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Come to Cleveland and go to Playhouse Square. And oh, while you're here, we hope you pay us a visit.'

But critics say casinos can short-change communities. Professor John Kindt of the University of Illinois-Champaign researches casino development. He's concerned by the Horseshoe Casino's 2,000 slot machines. He says each one will take in at least $100,000 a year.

John Kindt: That's money that's not going to buy cars, refrigerators, computers, and even food and clothing.

Meanwhile, critics say that as more and more states build casinos, their purported benefits to tourism may no longer stay on the table, as locals -- not out-of-state visitors -- will become the primary players.

In Cleveland, I'm Brian Bull for Marketplace.

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