Buggered Mind of Neale Sourna, The

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Monday, February 06, 2012

Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino looking to train 100 more card dealers, makes job offers to 700 for non-gaming positions

Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino looking to train 100 more card dealers, makes job offers to 700 for non-gaming positions

Published: Thursday, February 02, 2012, 6:23 PM Updated: Friday, February 03, 2012, 10:38 AM
card1.jpgView full sizeVeteran dealer Jerry Shields demonstrates the proper way to shuffle a deck of cards at Caesar's Table Games Service Academy at Thistledown.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The operator of a Las Vegas-style casino in the Higbee Building is making job offers to hundreds of people and has re-opened the door to people who want to deal cards and run table games in Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino.

Officials with Caesars Entertainment Corp. are looking to add 100 people to a class currently training at a 12-week card dealer academy at Thistledown in North Randall.

Applications are being accepted online only at www.horseshoecleveland.com.

The move became necessary because some people who had been attending the academy since December at their own expense dropped out. Some didn't like the dealing cards; others wanted to apply for jobs elsewhere in the casino or found another job altogether. And a few failed the drug test.

About 600 are currently training at the suburban horse racing track, which is owned by Caesars and has been turned into a makeshift casino for the off season.

"We've lost a few people," said Karen Kaminski, the casino's head of human resources. "The table games are going to be a very busy area of the casino. We want to make sure we have the right amount of staffing."

Caesars will oversee the day-to-day operations of the casino, a $400 million project on four floors of the former department store with 2,100 slot machine, 63 table games, a dedicated 30-table poker room and 400-seat buffet restaurant. The casino is being developed by Caesars and Dan Gilbert's gambling company, Rock Gaming LLC.

It was exactly a year ago Friday that Gilbert and Caesar's Chief Executive Officer Gary Loveman announced, at a gala press conference inside Higbee's, that they would build a casino inside the former department store under the Horseshoe brand.

In addition to the new openings dealing cards, Caesars is still accepting applications for 39 other types of jobs, everything from surveillance supervisors to security guards, bartenders to bakery chefs, facilities mechanics to financial controllers. You can apply for those jobs online at the casino web site.

Even though the Cavaliers were away on a road trip to Orlando, Quicken Loans Arena was buzzing this week as 3,300 people who had applied in December for mostly non-gaming positions were interviewed on Wednesday, Thursday and today. Caesars officials are making job offers on the spot to 700 candidates. The offers are contingent on passing a drug test and background check.

But exactly when everyone will start is still up in the air as state officials are a couple weeks away from naming opening days for the new casinos in Cleveland and Toledo.

With the Higbee renovation nearly complete, Caesars officials said Thursday that most people offered jobs can expect to go on the payroll for training and orientation a couple of weeks before the casino opens.

"There have been a lot of tears of joy, just a lot of great big smiles coming out of our job offer room," Kaminski said. "When they get the conditional job offer in their hands it's like winning the lottery for them."

Card2.jpgView full sizePeople at Caesar's Table Games Service Academy gather around a gaming table on the first day of class in December. Caesars is accepting applications once again for 100 more people to attend the 12-week training class.

All this is good news for the city of Cleveland, which will receive income taxes from employees along with several million dollars a year in casino revenue tax once doors open to gamblers, probably by June 1.

City officials Wednesday credited the income tax paid largely by construction workers at the casino, the convention center and medical mart with creating an unexpected $10 million windfall by last year's end. That money will help cushion a 2012 budget proposed by Mayor Frank Jackson Wednesday that calls for recalling 20 more laid-off police officers, giving city employees 3 percent raises, and restoring cuts in recreation services.

As of Dec. 31, the casino developer had awarded construction contracts totaling $98.8 million -- 46 percent, or $46 million, going to firms owned by minorities or women.

Those firms include M Rivera Construction, Aster Elements, Relmec Mechanical, RA Strauss Electric Supply, Safeguard Associates Inc., and McGarry & Sons, according to Rock Gaming officials.

The developer isn't required to award contracts to minority or women-owned businesses since no public money is involved in the project, but officials say doing so fulfills a pledge Gilbert made to Mayor Jackson and the public in 2009 when voters amended the Ohio constitution to allow to casinos in the state's four largest cities.

Natoya J. Walker-Minor, Jackson's chief of public affairs, noted Thursday that the developer had exceeded the city's goal of 30 percent inclusion.

"They've invested in the city through these small firms, so we're thrilled and excited about that," Walker-Minor said. "They have defied the myth that investing in minority and female businesses costs more. They're on time, on budget, with 46 percent minority and women-owned firms."

Related topics: caesars entertainment corp., rock gaming llc, rock ohio caesars


The carpet is installed and Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino is ready for slot machines: (video)

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 7:00 PM Updated: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 10:17 AM
Higbee casino tour Jan. 25, 2012 Higbee casino tour Jan. 25, 2012 Jeff Cohen and Nate Forbes, principals in Dan Gilbert's Rock Gaming LLC, say they are nearly ready to install slot machines at Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino. They expect construction at the Las Vegas-style casino in the fomer Higbee's department store will be completed by March. Watch video

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Move over Toledo, you've got nothing on Cleveland -- casinowise, that is.

Just five days after officials at Toledo's Hollywood casino indicated they ought to be the first casino to open in Ohio because construction was pretty much complete except for the carpet, their counterparts at Cleveland's Horseshoe casino upped the ante by showing off a nearly finished casino, complete with new carpet.

During a tour Wednesday, two partners in Dan Gilbert's gambling company unveiled what they've done to transform the former Higbee's department store into a full-fledged casino complete with 2,100 slot machines, a 30-table dedicated poker room and 63 table games.

"We're ready to go," declared Jeff Cohen, a principal in Rock Gaming LLC who's overseeing the Higbee construction. Rock Gaming has joined with Caesars Entertainment Corp. to build and operate voter-approved casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati

"We will be ready to be the first casino to open," added Cohen, who built the Cleveland Cavaliers new practice facility and renovated Quicken Loans offices in Detroit. "Hopefully, in three to four weeks they'll be delivering the slot machines."

HigbeeWindows.jpgView full sizeCleveland's Horseshoe Casino in the former Higbee's department store may be the first in the nation to have windows in the main gambling area. Higbee's huge display windows will be clad with sheer gold fabric panels that will allow people outside to discern lights and figures but not see faces.

At stake in the back and forth between the two developers, Rock Ohio Caesars in Cleveland and Penn National Gaming Inc. in Toledo, is the honor to be the first of Ohio's four Las Vegas-style casinos to open, which is expected to bring an overflow of customers for at least the first couple of weeks for whomever wins the competition and is the only casino open in the state.

Officials at the Ohio Casino Control Commission recently scrapped Cleveland's planned March 26 grand opening, saying that they needed more time to complete background investigations on owners, major investors and vendors. Toledo had been scheduled to open a week later.

JoAnn Davidson, chairwoman of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, said Friday that the commission might set a date range for the casinos openings, rather than a specific date. She added that a week between openings was not enough time for her staff.

"Two casinos cannot open that close when you only have one regulatory body that has to cover both of them," Davidson added. "There will have to be a couple of weeks between the openings."

Though the two developers teamed up for the successful passage of a 2009 constitutional amendment that okayed casinos in Ohio's four largest cities, the projects are worlds apart.

HigbeeCohenForbes.jpgView full sizeJeff Cohen, left, and Nate Forbes talk about construction at Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. Cohen and Forbes are principals in Rock Gaming LLC, which has joined with Caesars Entertainment Corp. to build casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

The $300 million Hollywood Casino Toledo is being built from the ground up on 44 acres off I-75 outside downtown. It's a theme casino, the 12th in Penn's Hollywood brand, and executives say convenience and "red carpet" customer service will draw people away from casinos in Cleveland, Detroit and Indiana.

"We're right off the highway," general manager Richard St. Jean said Friday during a tour, the first public look at the nearly completed casino. "We've got a great parking garage and easy access."

In Cleveland, Rock Ohio Caesars is spending about $480 million to transform four floors of the landmark Higbee Building into a casino with an eye for keeping the historic details.

Officials with the developer, at Gilbert's insistence, picked a downtown location off Public Square they say with the hope that the casino will feed off of the city's unique character and attractions and play a role in its revitalization.

The Horseshoe Casino Cleveland is keeping the story-high display windows, but is cladding them with sheer gold fabric panels that will allow people to discern lights and figures inside but not people's faces.

HigbeeColumns.jpgView full sizeDecorative wood panels with an art deco feel, a nod to the building's days as a department store, cover the base of the massive columns that line the gambling areas of Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino.

The brass-enclosed entryways off Public Square and Prospect Road will be familiar to generations of Higbee shoppers. The cast iron handrails and much of the woodwork, including decorative panels that wrap around the bottoms of the huge columns, gives the casino an art deco, 1930s department store feel.

"We've done everything we can to maintain the integrity of the historic building," Cohen added. "It's a tough task to take an old building and try to renovate it and maintain the character," he added. "You have to blend design elements of today with design elements of the past.

"And all the while meeting current (building) codes," said Nate Forbes, a developer and Rock Gaming principal who is know for high-end projects including The Mall at Millenia in Orlando.

"It has an old-world feel, yet hopefully people will feel comfortable," Forbes added. "We think it's something that people are really going to relate to."

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