ThistleDown racino becomes Ohio slots leader

Nov 11, 2013 10:41 AM

For years, ThistleDown, on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio, operated as a non-descript Thoroughbred racetrack under the tutelage of the late flamboyant Ed DeBartolo, who was well-known on the sports scene as the owner of the San Francisco 49ers.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the property was taken over by Frank Stronach’s Magna Entertainment Corp. But, the change failed to make a material impact on either the small village of North Randall, where it was located, or in the racing world.

Things have certainly changed, however, now that it is being operated as a racino, with the addition of slot machines. Now owned by Cleveland Cavaliers’ Dan Gilbert, through his Rock Ohio operation, which partners in Ohio with Caesars Entertainment Corp., the gambling facility has shocked the gaming world with its success.

Since opening it has shown strong returns on its 1,150 slot machines. Last month alone, the machines scored an Ohio-best average of $361 daily. 

Speaking to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer newspaper, David Schwartz, gaming researcher at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the slots average “would be great in any market.”

ThistleDown opened in April as Ohio’s second racino, behind Columbus’ Scioto Downs, owned by MTR Gaming Group (MNTG) of West Virginia.

Gilbert, who has purchased a major stake in Caesars Entertainment and its Caesars Interactive, is currently seeking to be licensed in Nevada. He was the founder of Quicken financial services.

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