One-Horse Town

Deconstructing the food, games, booze and decor behind the Horseshoe, Cincinnati's first and only urban casino

Mar 13, 2013 at 8:13 am

If you aren’t one of the thousands of patrons who visited the new Horseshoe Casino in its first week of business, no worries, it’s still there. Can’t miss it. It’s the big yellowish building downtown that looks kind of like a mall (sans Cheesecake Factory). And similar to a mall in convenience, you no longer have to drive to Indiana to gamble — unless you want to smoke inside. (Hooray for smoking bans.)

We’ve already covered the social, political and economic angles of the development of the Horseshoe in previous CityBeat issues — How will the local government end up using revenues? Is it weird that it’s by the jail and the Greyhound station? How will it effect the Pendleton neighborhood? — and will continue to do so if any crop up in the future. But for this issue, with no real agenda, we decided to just wander a few blocks over to the Horseshoe after work (and a few after-work beers) to check out the behemoth and see what all the fuss was about.

None of us go to casinos enough (except CityBeat Editor Danny Cross) to really care about whether or not there was a free fountain drink dispenser (although more cocktail waitresses would have been nice). And none of us were actually willing to gamble more than $20 (except Danny) on anything other than animal-themed penny slots (Kitty Glitter, anyone?). So we drank the casino-enforced limit of one drink per person at a time, several times, and looked at people and wandered around and then wrote about it. 

On the following pages we’ll describe the shiny new Horseshoe complex, from its darkly-lit bathrooms and VIP area to the retro carpet and the cocktail waitress outfits that probably set women’s lib back about 50 years. There’s also an explanation of why it’s important to wear a faux-fur coat to the casino and an overly confident account of two hours at a poker table that (probably luckily) went someone’s way. And we’ll touch on the alcoholic milkshakes at Bobby Flay’s restaurant, weird slot machine themes and an account of our follow-up trip to Margaritaville for lunch. 

No one struck it rich but we didn’t get kicked out, either — only warned. 

— Maija Zummo, project editor

You Can't Win If You Don't Play

The Art of Glambling

Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville

From Dice to Dinner