Opening of Cincinnati Casino Puts Fear into Neighboring States

Downtown Cincinnati

Ohio Casino Expansion Threatens Indiana, Kentucky Revenue

In the last fifteen years since casinos have been permitted in the state of Indiana, gambling revenue there has added up to nearly $750 million, which has enabled the state to finance all sorts of civic projects from roads to jails to schools.

Now, Indiana officials as well as those in Kentucky are deeply worried about the loss of that revenue stream, as this week marks the opening of a much-awaited Cincinnati casino property.

The Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is projected to bring in a whopping $227 million in revenue in its first year alone, which translates into about $75 million in tax revenue. This is precisely what has Indiana and Kentucky so concerned.

In the last year, new casinos have also popped up in the cities of Columbus, Toledo, and Cleveland, which have provided state and local governments in Ohio with a combined revenue stream of over $133 million.

This tale of competition amongst states to capture both gambling and tourism dollars is a scenario that is currently playing out across the nation, as several states find themselves in a tight race to open casinos as quickly as possible with the aim of either gaining or retaining tax dollars.

This situation is not just limited to the world of land-based casinos, either. Already three states – Nevada, Delaware, and most recently New Jersey – have passed laws to allow their residents to place wagers over the Internet. In Nevada this is limited to online poker only (at least for the time being), whereas the other two states will be permitting other forms of online betting as well.

In Cincinnati, Mayor Mark Mallory heralded the opening of the Horseshoe Casino, which does not have a hotel property attached, as a big step forward for the city, saying, “It’s a home run. This casino will have the ability to draw people from all around the country. … This is a top-line casino, and the people who are accustomed to the big casinos in Vegas, they’re not going to miss anything here.”

Across the border in Indiana spirits are noticeably dimmer, as casinos that once brought fresh life to small rural areas, not to mention an influx of new jobs, are trying to accept the fact that this revenue source is now greatly imperiled.

A report submitted to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels last year by the head of the Indiana Gaming Commission, Ernest Yelton, read in part, “The hovering threat to Indiana’s dominance in commercial casino revenues among its sister states is evolving into reality.”

There are thirteen casinos properties located in the state. Yelton has said that he expects all thirteen of them to be negatively affected by the casino expansion in Ohio.