Rock Gaming To Take Over Horseshoe Casino, Phase Two Now Almost Certainly Not Happening


"Phase II is definitely happening," Dan Gilbert said in 2012. “We have an initial design of that building. We wanted just to get open here [on Phase I], work out any kinks we have operationally, then we'll be moving full steam ahead on the design and planning of Phase II.”

Even last year, Gilbert reaffirmed his commitment to Phase II, despite an ever-changing local gambling market. Voters have been assured repeatedly that despite fluctuations and financial hurdles, the initial casino plan — the major hook used to bait local residents into passing a casino ballot measure in 2009 — was for sure still happening.

For sure.  

But three years after the Phase I opening in the Higbee building, the glorious downtown casino complex, the "real casino" Clevelanders were promised, is looking more and more like the sham sales pitch it always was. What a fucking typical crock of shit. Rock Gaming announced Monday that Rock will assume operations of the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati and Thistledown Racino from Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. by mid-2016, and Phase II simply doesn't fit into their business plan.   

In an interview with Crain's, Rock CEO Matt Cullen said all the Horseshoe signage would be history and that they'll find a new name for the downtown casino. And the property on  Huron Ave., the land they acquired from Forest City for a cool $80 million as the site of Phase II, now looks way more profitable as a "mixed-use development," which will include residential units.   

Well of course it does. Maybe you shouldn't have sworn to Cleveland voters that you'd deliver on your promise. (It's a matter of principle more than anything.)

Cullen told Crain's that the market for gaming doesn't justify a new casino downtown. Much of that has to do with the fact that there are now 11 gaming venues in Ohio. Back when Rock completed its Casino plans in 2009, there were only four.    

It gets harder to trust the Rock Gaming crowd with each word they say.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.