I've never been to a casino. I don't gamble. And after hearing about the disappointing soft opening with 15,000 VIP guests, I wasn't exactly in a hurry to go check things out. None the less, I found myself visiting Horseshoe Casino for a business meeting in their upstairs conference area. Afterwards, I took a look around the gaming floor and came to a conclusion: it's not that bad.

A lot of Cincinnatians were on the fence about having a casino in the heart of Downtown. Most of my friends could care less about it. One thing to remember is: Horseshoe isn't here for us urbanites. It's for people who like casinos, gambling, and destination environments. They may not live nearby, but there are plenty of folks who like to open their wallets to have a good time.

That's what I observed during my visit. While I was calculating the probability of slot machines and their dollar-to-credit ratio, other guests were happily entertained in playing a game of chance. The casino isn't for bean-counters like me; it's for people who have fun taking risks.


- Horseshoe Casino is actually built in the shape of a horseshoe.

- Get a "Total Rewards Card" when you first arrive. The booth to get this card is in the rear of the casino. It gives you discounts which can be used throughout the casino.

- Games with the best odds of winning are Blackjack and Craps. Slot machines have the highest risk of losing.

- The "High Rollers" area has a minimum bet of $100. Someone won $5,000 on a slot machine with one bet. Another won $36,000 at a table game. (Unfortunately, neither of those people were me.)

- There are over 2,000 slots and 87 gaming tables on the floor.

- There are 227 Cincinnatians per seat on the gaming floor. The casino needs to profit $304 each day from each seat to meet revenue goals.

- Posh, impressive architecture in the casino's circular bar. Expect ballpark prices on alcohol and a limited beer selection: domestics, Hudepohl, and Moerlein. They need some cocktail menus too.

- The exterior doors are tinted black giving no sense of day or night. I left after dark and it was actually brighter outside than in the doorway.

- There are no clocks in the casino.

- Accompanied minors are allowed in the perimeter of the casino where the restaurants are located. They are not allowed to walk down the gambling aisles, but can eat and shop with adults.

- I had sensory overload from all the flashing lights and noise from the slots. After an hour, I felt visually overwhelmed and got a headache.

- I was most impressed with the heat lamps built into the awnings of the entryway from the parking garage.

- "The Spread" buffet reminded me of a fusion between the food bar selection at Boi Na Braza and the size of a Golden Corral. $27.00 per person.

- Margaritaville has enough Jimmy Buffet merchandise to outfit every Parrothead in the city.

- Bobby's Burger Palace serves up a solid, tasty burger and has eclectic milkshake flavors, like Pistachio. You can also get milkshakes mixed with liquor for $9.00. Burgers: $8.00. Regular milkshakes: $5.00.

- You cannot take drinks purchased on the gaming floor into the restaurants, nor can you take drinks from the restaurants out onto the gaming floor.

-  Speaking of drinks, you can order one from a touch screen at your slot machine and a waitress will bring it to your seat. Sodas are free, alcohol is not.

- There is a slot machine for EVERYTHING: Judge Judy, Michael Jackson, mermaids, buffalo, kittens, Ghostbusters, Monopoly, Sex In The City, Hee Haw...


- No longer can one pull the slot machine handle to spin. The interaction is now through arcade buttons and the slots are all digital.

- Penny slot machines only take dollar bills, nor do they cost only one cent to play. The arcade buttons are in increments that do not divide evenly into a dollar: 40 credits, 80 credits, 120 credits, 300 credits. One credit = one cent. The minimum to play is 40 cents, and to actually use an even increment of money, one would have to choose 300 credits or $3.00.

- The people watching is priceless: a lady decked out head-to-toe in red clothing, stroking patterns on the screen for good luck, a woman on a Jazzie carrying a large soda in each hand. It's also interesting to see which demographics navigate to which games. The craps table was filled elbow-to-elbow with men.

- On my way home, I met a woman who had been at the casino since 4:00am. It was now 9:30pm.

In short, while it's not for me, it's not that bad as people have made a fuss about. For non-gamblers, there are restaurants and the 24-hour Starbucks. There's alcoholic milkshakes and endless people watching. Additionally, there are spacious, luxurious meeting rooms upstairs away from the gaming floor, plus some pretty cool Cincinnati-inspired art.

2nd Floor conference rooms