Will the casino help or hurt local businesses?

Yesterday, Rock Ventures LLC completed the $35 million purchase of the Broadway Commons site (pictured at right) where Cincinnati’s new casino will be located. But with construction set to begin this fall and an opening date in 2012, questions remain as to whether the development will help or hurt existing businesses in the area.

Some local business owners believe casino visitors will venture out into the surrounding neighborhoods to patronize bars, restaurants, hotels and other local businesses. Paul Fries, co-owner of the new Jack Potts Tavern, said that the opening of the casino, in addition to the Cincinnati Streetcar line, would create a “great entertainment area.” But others aren’t so sure, and say the casino will have no effect or would even hurt the surrounding area. To ease these concerns, the developers held a mini-charrette in February that focused on the connections between the casino and the nearby entertainment districts, among other topics.

The design of the building will be a huge factor in how the casino connects to the neighborhood. Casinos are often insular, with restaurants, bars, and entertainment within, giving visitors little reason to leave. With convenient access to a connected parking garage, many visitors will drive in and never step foot outside of the development. Creating a primary entrance facing the street is absolutely necessary to develop a true connection. Fortunately, Cincinnati’s casino developers plan to build restaurants and retail facing Reading Road, Broadway and East Court, and have a main entrance at the corner of Reading Road and Broadway.

Another emerging issue is how modified alcohol regulations for the casino would affect area bars. The developers are seeking the right to serve liquor 24 hours a day and to give guests free drinks. But would guests be as likely to venture out into nearby bars if they have the ability to be served later at the casino?

Hopefully additional charrette sessions will be held, allowing more residents and business owners to give input and voice their concerns. Since the casino is a certainty, Cincinnatians should fight to make sure it has a positive impact on the surrounding community and our existing businesses.

Broadway Commons photo courtesy of Sherman Cahal.

  • 5chw4r7z

    The alcohol issue brings up what I had against casino's to begin with, once you get in bed with the devil theres no getting out.
    If the casino doesn't think they can be profitable or competive with current laws in place, thats their problem, maybe they shouldn't be in the casino business.
    The free drink thing I really don't understand, they can't give me a free sample at a Bigg's beer tasting but the casino wants to give away drinks?
    This stinks on too many levels.

  • Quim

    As far as 24hr liquor sales go, people will probably drink where they want & not go to the casino till after their preferred hangout closes. I don't believe they should get the special treatment, tho. Maybe put it to a statewide vote? I believe there was 24hr drinking prior to prohibition.
    From my experience in Vegas (very limited), the money I lost / free Heinekens came out to the cost of a Heineken in any regular bar. Again, the casinos shouldn't get special treatment on this.
    Didn't the developer say he wouldn't have restaurants? I think he said inside, so, I guess this skirts that promise. Not a good start. From a practical sense, it guarantees 24hr food from the outset.

  • Leiflet

    If they want to be a part of Cincinnati, they have to abide by Cincinnati's rules. End of discussion.

  • Patrick

    As far as the issue of skirting the rules, aren't the ever-so-popular food trucks technically illegal under Cincinnati law? The response on other blogs about that was that the law needed to be changed because food trucks are so cool! If you think that rules are rules, then that thinking needs to be applied equally.

    Personally, I think it's a great idea to offer free drinks/24 drink service at the casino. The casinos in Vegas do this, and it adds to the experience. The added patronage to downtown will occur, with or without on site ameneties.

  • Matt Hunter Ross

    I really hope this doesn't come to fruition. I'm with 5chw4r7z: Casinos = bad news… on so many levels.

  • Heather

    I disagree that "The added patronage to downtown will occur, with or without on site ameneties."

    If that were truly the case they wouldn't be pushing for the 24hr free alcohol.
    —–
    My personal feelings are about integrity. If you say you will/will not do something…then keep your word.

  • Jellyplant

    Giving only one business special 24 Hour alcohol sales are outrageously unfair to every other bar, restaurant, brewery, and store in Hamilton County. Either everyone follows the law, or no one should have to. What's the point of having a law otherwise? Special exemptions from the law for a privileged few is tyranny.

  • Randy Simes

    Patrick:

    From my understanding, the food trucks in Cincinnati are not illegal under Cincinnati law. The problem is that there aren't really any clear rules written to regulate them. As of now they have to abide to general business laws, food safety laws and parking laws since they use parking spaces around town as their place of business.

  • Kareem

    The concerns brought up are valid ones. Though traditional casino design has been to keep their consumer within the casino, Rock Ventures has stated that they plan to create a more permeable atmosphere, having retail and restaurants that face outward from the casino.

    As for the 24hr ability to serve alcohol, a subcommittee of the Pendleton Neighborhood just met with Sen. Kearney to make a push for casinos to abide by the same time constraints with serving alcohol as the local bars and restaurants.

  • Travis Estell

    Thanks Kareem. I hope Rock Ventures holds true to their word and doesn't build a self-contained big box. RV also stated that they would still do OK sticking to the current alcohol time restrictions, so I hope they are not given this unfair advantage over other local bars.