Dan Gilbert’s Rock Gaming has yet to open its Cleveland gambling palace, but already it’s eyeing other pastures. Along with partner Ohio Caesars, Rock is now the lone bidder for a shot at building a 3,750-slot casino in Baltimore. If Maryland approves the bid in early April as anticipated, the casino could open as early as next year.
Cleveland’s own grand opening, meanwhile, has been suspended indefinitely until the state gets its paperwork in order. Rock still hopes for a springtime launch here and also at its new downstate casino.
“It does not change our commitment to Cleveland and Cincinnati — and really, Baltimore fits our urban, downtown casino philosophy,” says Rock spokeswoman Jennifer Kulczycki. “There’s gaming in Maryland, but not in Baltimore. It’s quite comparable to Cleveland, really. I think you could argue that Cleveland’s casino will open at least a full year before Baltimore.”
But as Cleveland vies to become a destination city, one could also argue that Baltimore already is one, what with its developed waterfront and National Aquarium. With phase 2 of Cleveland’s casino just a twinkle in Gilbert’s eye, the addition of a casino to Baltimore’s attractions would seem to make it a more competitive location for regional conventions and events that Northeast Ohio hopes to woo. Happily, Cleveland’s tourism bureau says we’re full of it.
“It can seem a little trite to say, but there are a lot of really great advantages Cleveland has: The Rock Hall, and our institutions truly are world-class,” says David Gilbert, head of Positively Cleveland. “Having the same developers involved in a Baltimore casino could even be an advantage. What is great about having Ceasars as part of Cleveland is that they are such an international powerhouse in whatever marketing they do.”
As for Cleveland’s casino delay? The tourism boss finds that a bit more troubling. “To our knowledge, there weren’t any groups that specifically chose Cleveland for conventions because of the casino,” Gilbert says, although he does point out that the Senior Games will drop their pension checks here in 2013. “But it’s still a shame, because every day the casino is delayed is another day of potential lost revenue for the city.”
Cleveland: Losing potential revenue daily since 1963.