Thistledown Racino Expanding Ohio’s First Gaming Patio

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ThistleDown Racino, which pioneered outdoor gaming in Ohio and recently committed to expand here in Cuyahoga County, announced today that it will quadruple the number of outdoor Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs). This is the first of $60 million in planned improvements to the storied facility.


The 4,200-square-foot expansion of the Slush patio will open later this year and will further combine horse racing, gaming and an outdoor bar for a full entertainment experience.


“We took a chance when we introduced outdoor gaming as a new way to play in Ohio, and it turns out we made the right decision,” said Rick Skinner, general manager of ThistleDown Racino. “Northeast Ohioans have shown that they love to pair their favorite pastimes with the great outdoors.”


ThistleDown will add 97 VLT machines to the existing 32 on the patio. The new Slush patio bar will enable guests to have a drink while playing the VLTs and simultaneously watching Thoroughbred horses thunder by at 35 miles per hour on one of the nation’s best racetracks.


The Slush patio expansion is the first of several planned improvements at ThistleDown. In agreement with the Ohio State Racing Commission, ThistleDown will invest at least an additional $60 million to update and add guest amenities. In the coming months, the racino will explore and announce improvements that will further enhance the ThistleDown experience.


The improvements are linked to ThistleDown’s recent commitment to remain in Cuyahoga County, instead of exercising its state-approved option to move the facility to the Akron-Canton area. After months of deliberations, ThistleDown owner Rock Ohio Caesars determined that Cleveland’s east side is the best location for the racino.


ThistleDown reopened on April 9, 2013 as a racino following an $89 million renovation that added a gaming floor with more than 1,000 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), six dining options, two bars and Ohio’s first gaming patio. Included in the renovation was a $1 million upgrade to the wagering floor, which added more than 150 high-definition, 60-inch, flat screen TVs for horse racing enthusiasts to enjoy both live and year round simulcast racing action.


Since opening, ThistleDown has had the best performing VLTs, coming in well above any other gaming location in Ohio and demonstrating the popularity of the racino as an entertainment destination on Cleveland’s east side.


The addition of a racino has subsequently breathed new life into the sport of kings in Northeast Ohio. Under a statewide agreement, horsemen receive a portion of VLT revenue, which resulted in a 28 percent increase in purse sizes in 2013, enabling ThistleDown to attract the highest quality horses and jockeys in the Midwest and across the country.