FOX19 Investigates: Casino's real impact on Columbus & Cleveland - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

FOX19 INVESTIGATES: The impact of Cincinnati's new casino

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

In two weeks with the Grand Opening of Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, all four Ohio casinos will be up and running.

Each day, taxes are collected for the state casino tax revenue fund. From there, it's distributed to the state, counties and host cities broken down into seven funds:

51% to all Ohio counties based on population
34% to all school districts based on student population, with first distribution in January
5% to the host city
3% to the Casino Control Commission
3% to the Ohio State Racing Commission
2% to the Law Enforcement Training Fund
2% to the Problem Casino Gambling and Additions Fund

Cincinnati's new downtown casino will bring money, people, and a new entertainment atmosphere to the city.

From October to December, with three casinos in operation, the gross casino revenue fund totaled more than $52 million.

"We're taxed at 33% of our revenues by the state, and it's a direct contribution back to the state government, of course the school system, a lot of beneficiary," explained Ameet Patel, VP and GM of Hollywood Casino Columbus.

Almost $27 million was distributed to counties, and more than $17 million was distributed to schools. Despite this fact, gross revenue is drastically less than projected when voters approved the casinos in 2009.

Those millions of dollars were generated by millions of new visitors.

"Prior to the casino opening in 2011, we had just over 5 million visitors a year. And with the casino, and the opening of our new convention center, we're going to expect somewhere in the order of 11.5 to 12 million visitors downtown," said David Gilbert, President and CEO of Positively Cleveland.

As a result of more visitors in the downtown area, a common concern is an increase in crime. Similar to Cincinnati, Cleveland's casino is located downtown.

"To be perfectly frank, downtown Cleveland is amazingly safe and the casino numbers have not changed that one iota. In fact, a lot of people thought there would be a negative element concerning the casino. That has not been the case," revealed Joe Marinucci, President of Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Gilbert says the downtown location of Cleveland's casino brings much more activity to the area, as well as 24/7 security presence, making the area safer as a whole.

Both Columbus and Cleveland have seen a positive economic impact in surrounding areas. Since opening, the City of Cleveland has received nearly $3 million. In Columbus, the west side of town has seen redevelopment.

"It just makes us a more well rounded destination," said Scott Peacock, of Experience Columbus. "It gives us more appeal to markets that we maybe didn't reach before."

In Cleveland, about a dozen eateries have been added since the casino opened and at least a dozen more are on track for 2013.

"When you add the fact that there's 1600 employees migrating to the site every day, that's also significant economic impact as well," Marinucci added.

Casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati are both operated under Horseshoe. The company partners with local hotels and restaurants as part of its rewards program.

"We don't contend to be the savior of all things downtown," said Horseshoe Cleveland General Manager Marcus Glover. "We do consider ourselves to be an active participant in all of the vibrancy that's going on."

"There's no doubt that you see more vibrancy, more people on the street at all hours," Gilbert agreed.

Marinucci went on to say that the full economic impact of all four casinos likely won't be known until 2014, after a full year of operation here in Cincinnati.

To stay informed about casino tax distributions in Ohio, click here.

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