I am a casual fan of the Horseshoe Casino downtown. I have my reasons I don’t go as often as I could. The Thistledown Casino does absolutely zero for me. It’s brand new and looks like it was opened in the 70’s. It’s dark, dirty and cramped. The Racetrack portion is borderline disgusting. I am not sure if they intend on rehabbing the thing or not, but I have no interest going back because it’s pretty gross; betting slips all over the floor, dated furniture, old bathrooms. It reminds me of the movie style racetrack, and I feel like I am going to run into a booze soaked Bukowski at any given time. It’s like the hidden stepchild of the casino downstairs that no one talks about.
The things I like about the Horseshoe downtown? The service is pretty good, and the location for me is perfect. It is easy to get to, easy to park, and now with the walkway it’s pretty convenient. The history of the old building is still there too. However the high table limits, tight slots and limited premium machines turns me off.
What do I like about the Hard Rock? Everything. I understand they don’t have table games, but because the high limits at the Horseshoe it’s not even a factor. I don’t play tables downtown. I just don’t like playing over $5.00. I am a casual player. The one $5.00 table they might have open is either packed or gets flipped to a higher value quickly. Last time I was there they had a guy sitting at the $5.00 table not playing and people (me) behind him waiting to sit in. That was my final straw. They obviously don’t want my money if they let folks sit for 20 minutes when others could be playing.
The Rocksino is everything a Cleveland Casino should be. It’s rock and roll! Hey, that is a really interesting idea you have going there. A rock and roll themed casino that has an auditorium, live music, music memorabilia and a rock and roll vibe. Who would have thought that would work in the rock and roll capital of the world? Dan Gilbert you might want to visit and take some more notes on how a casino works and how to draw people in. Just throwing in slots and tables doesn’t cut it. A casino needs live entertainment. To think one would be successful without it is completely ridiculous. Much like a Cavs Basketball game the Horseshoe is now playing catch up to the opposing team.
The Rocksino is everything I want a casino to be (minus the tables, however like I said I don’t play the tables in Cleveland anyhow). It is clean. It is bright. There are a variety of slots. The customer service is excellent. The high limits aren’t out of control VIP standards, and have some affordable options. They have some excellent choices for food, and most importantly they embrace the rock and roll culture that the city of Cleveland continues to ignore. Cleveland is not white glove, glitzy glam like New York city. It is a blue collar steel town with roots in rock and roll. The Hard Rock brand is a solid addition to Cleveland, and while it might not be in Cleveland proper I still consider it a part of the city. The Hard Rock casino feels like I stepped into Vegas for a minute. The bright neon lights, and even that casino smell.
I took in the Rick Springfield show last Saturday and even on a busy Saturday night they were on their A-game. Valet was quick. The Players Club (located in the high limit area) was quick and friendly. I not only got to see a concert (an amazing well put on show with great sound and crowd control), but I also got to play some games, have a drink and check out rock and roll artifacts that are worthy to be hung in our very own Rock Hall. The only thing I didn’t get to check out were the food options. I look forward to going back to the Rocksino and it would be my 1st choice in gaming in Cleveland. I walked out donating about $40 to the casino that night, but I had fun.
The one thing I would change, because this isn’t utopia, would be the layout of the concessions at the concert hall. It’s not the best. There is some severe congestion going on with that layout. You have too many people milling around the lobby after they get their drink causing a jam. I would find another spot for the bands merch tables to take away some of that traffic. No one wants to be by the bathrooms, but you have way too much going on in front of the concert entrance and not a whole lot going on after the concert doors. I had no idea what line I was in. Was I in the beer station, the merch table or the concession line? They all blended into one giant jam. One other side note, I get the Bud Light station or whatever beer you are pushing, but would it be too much to ask to have them sell bottled water too? I would have been more interested in buying something had there not been such a cluster in that lobby. Outside of that the Rocksino is the place to be for live entertainment and gaming. I can’t wait to go back and maybe get a little VIP tour (hint hint).