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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dan Gilbert on Casino Delay, Sports Wagering

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 9:57 AM

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Ohio’s Casino Control Commission has put the brakes on the planned launch of Cleveland’s downtown casino in March, but the boss isn’t worried about the holdup.

"The process overall, considering we got it approved just a little over two years ago, has gone pretty smoothly," Rock Gaming owner Dan Gilbert told Scene last week in an interview at Quicken Loans Arena, adding that he expects his Horseshoe Casino to have its house in order by April 1. "[The delay] is a little disappointing, but we're getting ready. We'll be ready operationally: the building itself, which is coming along, and the staff.”

When the state will be ready remains to be seen. The delay is the result of background checks for prospective employees that are taking longer than expected. The OCCC claims delays were due in part to Top Men at the casino arguing over which employees would have to go through the checks and which wouldn't. Can't be harboring any Danny Oceans on the payroll, after all.

Regardless of who is to blame, it’s Rock that will feel the pinch. The latest guess for opening date has moved from the originally scheduled March 26 to sometime in April or May. Or maybe June. Only the OCCC knows for sure.

“We understand, being the first casino to open in Ohio, all the work that's involved in licensing,” Gilbert says. “It's not just the principals. The laws in Ohio, they're pretty stiff. And they're not just licensing ten guys; there's hundreds and hundreds of people. We'll take that time to make the opening that much smoother."

Asked about the latest in gambling news — New Jersey recently passed a bill legalizing sports betting, and now will fight to have the federal ban overturned so the state law can actually go into effect — Gilbert remained neutral.

"The federal law has to come off first, of course," he said. "Typically, sports gambling, although it's exciting, is not a huge part of casino revenue. Honestly, we didn't really look at it during this process because it was so far off for us, we had so much else to get done. And I've never really fully looked at the pros and cons. Of course, as it evolves, if it happens, we'll have to do more research."

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