First bets wagered in Cleveland's new Horseshoe Casino

Casino's profits went to charity at soft opening

CLEVELAND - The Horseshoe Casino Cleveland may not technically open until Monday, but the first bets have already been wagered.

From 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, 1,850 invited guests got to take part in the casino's controlled demonstration.

"The casino chose the guest list. They are using actual currency. It's live gaming with slot machines and table games," said Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler. The money the guests won they got to keep, the casino's profits went to charity.

The commission requires the run-through to make sure the casino's internal control plans dealing with security, surveillance, auditing and accounting are up to speed.

"We have individuals throughout the casino auditing various processes and procedures, and we'll have an assessment and sit down with the casino management tomorrow to review our assessment," Schuler said.

While the Casino Control Commission evaluates that, those on the casino end are looking at things from the customers' point of view.

"You learn things with a dress rehearsal," said Rock Gaming President Matt Cullen. "Was there a problem here, was this line too long, should we have had more people here and so on, so that we take that very seriously."

The guests got to experience what the general public won't see until Monday at the earliest, the $400 million transformation of the Higbee Building into the Horseshoe.

So what did they think?  

"The decor of the place really it looks like a real classy place, which is always good to feel comfortable when you're gambling for sure, " said Jeff Contini, of New Philadelphia.

Sharaya Wade, of Shaker Heights, agrees. "It was what I thought it would be and more. I think it was the decor that stood out to me and the friendliness of everyone. I mean, everyone greets you with a smile. I love it."

Yes, the greetings supplied by some of the casino's 1,600 employees are what left the lasting impression for many.

"Everybody there who was identified with the casino was very warm and friendly and greeting and it's a service business and they seem to understand that," said Bob Reitman, of Gates Mills.

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