Toledo casino site soon ready for Ohio regulators

ANN SANNER Associated Press Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Slot machines are almost fully installed and table games have been delivered to Ohio's second casino, scheduled to open in late May in Toledo.

That was among updates heard by Ohio regulators Wednesday in Columbus as the state prepares for the openings of four voter-approved casinos in the next year or so.

Jeffrey Goodman, the vice president of casino operations for Hollywood Casino Toledo, told the Ohio Casino Control Commission that table games should be set up by mid-month, and that slots would be ready for regulators to test around then, too.

More than 510 table and poker dealers have been trained, Goodman said, and surveillance equipment is now installed.

The casino is aiming to hold its grand opening May 29, but that date is pending approval from commission. Cleveland's casino is slated to open about two weeks earlier. Voters in 2009 also approved casinos in Cincinnati and Columbus.

The commission on Wednesday reviewed the final steps leading up to the openings.

Each casino must do a test run several days before their grand openings, so that state regulators can get a simulated look at what a typical day might be like at the facilities.

Invited guests to the so-called controlled demonstrations could play the slots and table games and eat at the restaurants at the casinos. The winners would get to keep their earnings. The casinos would still have to pay the state 33 percent of gross earnings -- defined as total amount wagered, minus winnings. And the rest of the casino's net revenue from the demonstration would go to charity, said Matt Schuler, the commission's executive director.

Background checks and licensing of employees and vendors is on track to meet the opening dates, Schuler said.

The commission on Wednesday approved 861 licenses for casino employees in Toledo and Cleveland. So far, they've signed off on almost 1,140 licenses. And on Thursday, a casino employee in Cleveland was expected to be presented with the first state-issued license.

The state is also ramping up its efforts to tackle potential gambling addictions in the state.

Laura Clemens, the commission's point person on problem gambling, told the panel that 200 additional social workers, counselors and others have now received training to treat those who are having gambling issues or addictions.

Commissioners were updated on law enforcement and security at the casinos.

Two to four investigators from the Ohio attorney general's office will be roaming the casinos at any given time of day. The gambling agents, who will be dressed in business-casual clothing and carrying concealed guns, will keep an eye out for potential cheating and other problems. They'll have arresting authority for gambling-related crimes.