NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - A year ago there were no gambling options in northeast Ohio, but a year from now there will be three.
Joining the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland in 2013 will be two racinos, the term given to racetrack's that offer slots, at Thistledown and Northfield Park.
The first to open this spring will be Horseshoe's sister property Thistledown Race Track in North Randall.
Since the fall, crews have been busy gutting and renovating the track's second level, converting what was the main betting floor into a modern, slots-only casino.
Track betting operations have been moved to the fourth floor, which was last used to train dealers prior to the Horseshoe's opening last spring.
Gasser Chair of Youngstown has already begun production of nearly 1,200 chairs for the 1,150 video lottery terminals or VLTs that will fill the 57,000 square foot gaming floor.
The chairs will ship in early March. The track opens for live racing April 19. Though no formal opening date for the racino has been announced, the inside work is progressing to the point the carpet is down, the signage is up and some of the slot machines are already in place.
Thistledown's owner, Rock Ohio Caesars, this week began the process of seeking applications for nearly 600 positions in security, food and beverage, finance, marketing and more.
Seven miles to the south of Thistledown, in Northfield, site preparation work is just beginning in Northfield Park's parking lot, where the $275 million Hard Rock Entertainment Facility will rise later this year.
The Hard Rock will be a free-standing, slots-only casino just a short walk from the existing grandstand, with 2,500 VLTs, a Hard Rock Café, premium steak house, live performing stage as well as a center bar, buffet, conference and meeting space.
Construction equipment is being moved into place and the parking lot is fenced off with signs on site telling customers of the racino's opening in the fall of 2013.
Scioto Downs in Columbus became the state's first race track to get a VLT license last year. The $125 million racino opened last June. It has 2,100 electronic slots. Scioto in December brought in $9.8 million in revenue in December. It's averaged $11.3 million a month since its opening.