Thistledown Racino Set to Open April 9 Culminating $88 Million Revamp Of Historic Racing Establishment

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Rock Ohio Caesars LLC (ROC) today announced that its latest Ohio gaming destination – ThistleDown Racino – will celebrate its grand opening on April 9, 2013, pending regulatory approval. Owned and developed by ROC, a joint venture between Rock Gaming LLC and Caesars Entertainment Corporation, ThistleDown’s grand opening will usher in a new era in the storied history of the nearly 90-year-old Thoroughbred racetrack-turned-racino, and will include two performances by American Idol winner and Las Vegas headliner Taylor Hicks.


After an $88 million investment and months of renovations, ThistleDown is ready to relive its heyday as a premier location for fun and entertainment with the installation of Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) as well as new dining and nightlife options. The North Randall facility, located on 128-acres 10 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland, will continue to offer live racing from April through November at its one-mile oval racetrack, as well as simulcast racing year-round.


“We’re excited about so many things as the grand ‘re-opening’ for ThistleDown approaches,” said racino General Manager Rick Skinner. “We’ve created 700 new jobs in this community to support these additions to our business. It is thrilling to see our new gaming floor and amenities take shape while we also prepare for our live racing schedule to start on April 19. Whether you’re a gamer, a horseracing enthusiast or both, we look forward to providing all our customers the fun, entertainment and great customer service that has become synonymous with Caesars Entertainment and the Total Rewards network.”


The New ThistleDown


ThistleDown has hosted dozens of epic races, entertained the best in sports and entertainment and has undergone many changes since it originally opened in 1925 as one of Ohio’s first racetracks. The new ThistleDown Racino will feature a 57,000 sq. ft. gaming space with 1,150 VLTs in many of the latest themes and some old favorites as well. Dining and nightlife will also play a big part in the fun at ThistleDown Racino with six new outlets:

  • The Diner, offering a fresh take on familiar diner favorites;
  • The American Burger Bar, featuring big, juicy burgers, hand cut fries and traditional milkshakes;
  • The Mane Street Deli, with overstuffed sandwiches and more than 25 toppings and sauces to choose from;
  • Steaks and Rings, serving up cheese steaks piled high with fresh cut onion rings;
  • The main racino bar, Center Bar, features 17 big screens and personal table top audio so guests never miss a call;
  • Slush, located on the east end of the gaming floor, is the centerpiece of ThistleDown nightlife. Slush features more than 20 flavors of frozen libations, a stage for live entertainment and daily Mexican food specials and a unique outdoor patio that will open later this spring. Adjacent to the Winners Circle, the patio at Slush will also offer VLT gaming, a bar, and will permit smoking – the first of its kind in Ohio.


With the addition of VLTs, ThistleDown will be open 24/7 and will offer complementary parking and shuttle service between the racino and its adjacent 2,400 space parking lot.


ThistleDown Joins the Total Rewards Network


In April, ThistleDown Racino will become a Total Rewards property, joining a vast network of Caesars Entertainment properties in the gaming and racing industries’ largest guest loyalty program. Membership is free and guests may signup online at Participants must be 21 or older and may earn and redeem credits at any Total Rewards property.


April 9 Grand Opening


ThistleDown will celebrate its public grand opening in a big way after its doors open to the public at 5 p.m. EDT on April 9. American Idol winner and Las Vegas headliner Taylor Hicks will kick off the festivities with exclusive concerts on opening night and on April 12 for Total Rewards members. Hicks, whose music is an eclectic mix of Southern soul, R&B, country and blues, starred as Teen Angel in the 2008 Broadway national tour of Grease and is currently headlining through 2013 at Paris Las Vegas.


Other opening-week festivities include a daily $10,000 giveaway, a live DJ-hosted dance party extending across the entire racino floor, and live entertainment at Slush.


Racino Development Background


In summer 2012, ROC submitted a license application to the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC), and was subsequently granted a temporary license to add VLTs to ThistleDown. VLT operation is subject to applicable laws and regulations by OLC and the Ohio State Racing Commission, which oversees horseracing at the state’s seven racetracks. Construction to transform the facility into a racino began last August, and recruiting efforts to hire an additional 700 team members began last fall. A future opportunity to relocate ThistleDown remains an option to the company but neither a decision nor a timeline has been determined at this time.