Cincinnati Opens Downtown Casino, But Is it Urban?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
The Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened this week. (Courtesy Horseshoe Cincinnati)

The Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened this week. (Courtesy Horseshoe Cincinnati)

Casinos have landed in Ohio’s three largest cities, now that Cincinnati’s $400 million Horseshoe casino is open for business. Eric Douglas, a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, has an interesting post as a guest blogger for UrbanCincy on the casino’s supposedly urban character. While Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati have been billed as “truly urban” establishments, he writes, “casinos are not known to be particularly friendly urban creatures.”

A large lawn at the building’s main entrance is the extent of the building’s civic engagement, by Douglas’ account, while the slab-like frontage on the building’s other end provides no urban connectivity whatsoever.

Located downtown and not far from the booming Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Horseshoe is a worthy target for design criticism. Even if its selling point at the ballot box—where Ohio voters approved four new casinos in recent years—was revenue and not urbanism, the facility’s contribution to a city on the rebound could be more than tax dollars. The casino owners said they expect 6 million visitors a year to the 24-7 facility.

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