Construction stopped on Cleveland, Cincinnati casinos

CLEVELAND - Construction work on casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati has been stopped, a release from Rock Ohio Caesars says.

According to a news release, the company has suspended work because of recent talk to increase taxes and fees for the state's casinos.

Matt Cullin, Rock Gaming's president and chief operating officer, told NewsChannel5 last month that the size and timeline of the projects could ultimately change , if fees or taxes are pushed higher than what was set by the Issue 3 referendum.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich hired two consultants to advise him on how to arrange policies to best benefit the state. Ohioans approved casino gambling in the state in November 2009, with the passage of Issue 3.

"The governor doesn't oppose gambling and wants the casinos to be successful, and we are confident that a resolution can be reached that will be in the best interest of Ohioans. Ohio's gaming laws have been cobbled together over decades, without regard for how different types of gaming fit in with or impact others, and therefore a comprehensive policy will help inform the governor's decisions moving forward," said Kasich's spokesperson Rob Nicholas.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures is partnering with Caesars Entertainment to build the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland.

Rock Ohio Caesars announced in February its plans for a Phase I casino, which would be located in Cleveland's Higbee building on Public Square. The $350 million project would create a 96,000 square foot gaming floor. It was originally slated to open in early 2012.

The following is the statement released by Rock Ohio Caesars Wednesday afternoon:

"The recent legislative action and discussion proposing significantly higher taxes and fees specific to the operation of casinos in Ohio, which were authorized through a constitutional amendment by the citizens of Ohio in November 2009, have created an environment of uncertainty concerning the projected economic vitality of our planned developments in both Cincinnati and Cleveland.

"Construction work on both sites has been suspended and will remain so until these issues have been resolved and a reliable State economic environment is in place. Only then can we proceed with construction and deliver on our commitment to employ thousands of Ohioans in new private sector construction and casino-related jobs, provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to support local public schools and vital local government services, and generate much-needed investment in the urban cores of Cleveland and Cincinnati.

"Rock Ohio Caesars is hopeful that a resolution can be reached quickly so that the State of Ohio can reap the economic benefits sought by voters when they approved Issue 3 in November 2009."

Keep checking for more information.

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