Since the 1930s, the excitement of gambling has offered millions of people the thrills of the uncertain outcome. However, if you’ve lived in Ohio, you have had to travel out of state for the past 80 years to indulge in gaming entertainment. This May, that all changes with the opening of the new Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland’s historic Higbee Building.

Expected to bring more than five million annual visitors to the Cleveland area and have a large economic impact, the Horseshoe Cleveland brings needed growth and attention to Northeast Ohio.

This past March at the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s 2012 annual meeting, Gary Loveman, chairman, president and CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp., the company that manages the Horseshoe brand and 54 other casinos around the world, spoke to the crowd about the casino experience and impact the new Horseshoe facility would have on the Cleveland area.

“We are very excited about the opening of what will be the most dynamic event in the gaming world here in Cleveland on the 14th of May,” Loveman says. “We have a $450 million investment that we have done with our partners at Rock, a partnership that was formed around the opportunity to develop casinos here in Ohio, the first in Cleveland and then in Cincinnati.”

The Cleveland casino will feature some 2,500 gaming positions and will serve about 700,000 meals to guests here in Cleveland on an annual basis. Guests will primarily stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, which is now owned by the partnership, but an additional 70,000 or so room nights will be used by guests in a number of the other facilities in the area.

“We anticipate some 5 million visitors to the casino in the course of its first year of operation, which will exceed by a considerable number the level of visitation that currently exists for many of the very attractive facilities or athletics and other entertainment in Cleveland today,” Loveman says.

Loveman, who joined Caesars in 1998 as COO and was named CEO in 2003, has since been named the gaming and lodging industry’s best CEO by Institutional Investor Magazine for four consecutive years. He is looking forward to a strong relationship between the Horseshoe casino and Cleveland.

“This experience will be Horseshoe, but it will also be Cleveland and it will reflect all of the things that this city has to offer,” he says. “It is our intention to build our experience through a network of collaborations with other fine providers of cuisine, lodging, transportation, and entertainment here in the area. Already, my colleagues have had discussions and entered into some levels of agreements with the athletic teams here in Cleveland, with Playhouse Square and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

The goal for Loveman and Caesars is to provide Cleveland with entertainment and customer service with few of the negatives that are often associated with gaming.

“We take our obligation in the communities in which we operate very seriously,” he says. “Our partners at Rock Gaming and we came together in large part because we share that commitment. We are in the business of making sure we provide that service at the highest possible level while being the most thoughtful and innovative company possible and looking after those that suffer adverse consequences from these services as well.”

All Caesars employees are trained in handling and helping people who show signs of addictive gambling and no one under 21 is permitted in the casino.

“We try to make sure that we have the tightest standards possible that would make it difficult for addictive gamblers to find our facilities attractive places to visit,” Loveman says. “We seek out such customers and ask them if they are having a problem and provide them access to clinical resources and everything we can to make sure that they find the help that they might need. We also started Project 21 to make sure no one under the legal age of 21 could enter our facilities or participate in gambling if they entered our facilities. We restrict where we advertise, with who we advertise, and the manner in which we advertise to make sure no vulnerable group is addressed from our business at all.”

For those who participate in a safe manner, the new casino will provide a level of entertainment and economic activity that Cleveland hasn’t seen before.

“My hope is that when I have the opportunity to visit with you a year or two from now, you’ll tell me that you had the chance to visit with us, your friends have visited with us and found the experience appealing … and in every respect we and our partners at Rock have risen up to the incredible opportunity you’ve given us to join you here in Cleveland,” he says.

HOW TO REACH: Caesars Entertainment Corp., www.caesars.com

Published in Cleveland