The Cincinnati region’s newest gambling outlet, Miami Valley Gaming, opens at noon Thursday.
The gambling destination is the new site for Lebanon Raceway combined with 1,600 video slots – making it the region’s first racino and Ohio’s third.
The new operation means 500 new jobs for the region. The 188,000-square-foot complex also will boast four eateries: Cin City Steak and Seafood; Trifecta, a pizza, chili and hamburger restaurant; MV Perks, a coffee shop; and Acres Seasonal Buffet. Harness racing will start in February.
The racino cost $175 million to develop and build.
Starting today, it will compete with Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cincinnati and three riverboat casinos in Southeast Indiana. Miami Valley Racing officials had initially predicted their facility would rake in $125 million during their first year of operations, but have backed off that initial forecast.
Even though the new facility is the region’s fifth slots outlet, racino officials insist there is enough gambling business in the region for them to thrive.
One third of the racino’s gambling revenues are retained by the state Lottery Commission, which is turned over to state education funding.
What will become of the Warren County fairgrounds when Lebanon Raceway moves out to its new racino site in Turtlecreek Township?
That’s the $6 million question being tackled by a think-tank committee assigned to figure it out. The group of 15 residents, business leaders and government officials is expected to make a recommendation to Warren County commissioners in October or early November.
At stake: the future of prime real estate in a fast-growing area of what the 2010 census found is the 2nd fastest-growing county in Ohio.
Proposals have started coming into the county in the past month, according to records obtained by The Enquirer. Among the ideas: an equestrian center, a technology ‘incubator’ even a site for music festivals.
Warren County Fair board president Joe Wilson The Enquirer/Tony Jones
And while county officials have indicated they don’t want to sell the 97.5 acres worth at least $5.3 million just outside downtown Lebanon, one county commissioner said it’s not out of the question.
“Upper and foremost, $6 million is not going to be adequate to totally let go of that land and move the fairgrounds somewhere else,” Commissioner Pat South told The Enquirer.
“I have always said I would sell it in a heartbeat to bring in new jobs. I can build a fairgrounds anywhere. But, we’ve not marketed it to even solicit purchase of the 100 acres – not that that idea wouldn’t be submitted,” South, who also is a member of the redevelopment committee, said.
The fairgrounds has been home to the Warren County Fair for more than 160 years.
Several proposals favor keeping the fair there and developing a horse-centered venue to keep with the property’s history of harness racing for more than 60 years and the county’s large horse population. Warren County was home to 2,798 horses – the fifth largest horse population in Ohio – during the latest horse census in 2007, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
• The Warren County Equestrian Committee, a group of equestrian enthusiasts, has proposed building a heated arena for equestrian events, dog shows, trade shows and year-round rental. Members suggested a new barn that could serve as a “horse hotel” for people traveling with animals, a new and updated camping area, and a convention center. Such a re-development would generate about $1.7 million a year for the fairgrounds and have a $17 million economic impact for Warren County, the proposal said.
This illustration shows what the new Warren County racino near Monroe is expected to look like. It?s scheduled to open in 2014, pending various state approvals. Provided
Paul McKibben reports:
The owners of the racino that’s being built in Warren County near Monroe announced Tuesday it will give the county $3 million to help redevelop the Warren County Fairgrounds.
The county-owned fairgrounds – located on North Broadway Street in Lebanon – will be without horse racing and a major tenant when the Lebanon Raceway moves to the racino site. The racino is expected to open during the first quarter of 2014. The county has estimated the fairgrounds needs $2.5 million in repairs.
Among the ideas that have been mentioned for the fairgrounds is an equestrian center, a youth sports complex and convention space for smaller-scale events such as wedding receptions. The county could also sell the property and a find a new home for the county fair.
The county could receive a total of $6.5 million for redevelopment of the fairgrounds. Warren County Commissioner Dave Young said the county has already received $500,000 in deferred maintenance on the fairgrounds from the two trotting clubs that owned the Lebanon Raceway. The county could also get up to $3 million from the state for losing the track.