Las Vegas-style casino planned for area

Steven Harbaugh

Steven Harbaugh

Daily Kent Stater

The site of the next Caesar’s Palace or Luxor may be a short drive from your own backyard. About 40 minutes from Kent in the village of Lordstown, leaders of the Eastern Shawnee tribe in Oklahoma are planning to build an upscale gaming resort. The site, located on 137 acres adjacent to the Ohio Turnpike, is planned to include a hotel, casino, water park and recreation complex.

The plan will bring 3,000 new jobs to the area and millions of dollars in revenue to the economically strapped Ohio economy, according to the tribe.

“We’ve been pleased with the tremendous amount of interest and support,” said Terry Casey, representative for the tribe. “That doesn’t mean everybody is supportive. Some people, for personal or political reasons, don’t agree with it.”

The gaming resort complex will cater to a more affluent, aging baby boomer generation — and it will make the area more appealing because the casino will be built in the least populated area of the village, according to Lordstown Mayor Michael Chaffee.

“This will be more of a vacation spot rather than just a gaming area with slots,” Chaffee said, noting the complex will also feature table games like poker and craps.

The plan still has several hurdles to complete before ground is broken, including approval by the federal government and state legislature to allow gambling in Ohio. The process of approval will probably take two years before construction begins, Chaffee said.

Anya Cottage, senior marketing major, said she thinks the plan is a positive step in the right direction for Ohio’s struggling economy.

“A lot of people that are educated are leaving the area and because of the fact that there’s not a lot of new, innovative businesses coming into the area,” she said. “Maybe this would be a good way to bring in jobs and revenue.”

Others view the plan as a double-edged sword — one that has both positive and negative elements.

Leslie Drinkwater, who owns a Uniontown-based company called High Rollers that operates Vegas-style gaming parties in the area, said he sees the positive effects of jobs and revenue but that Ohio’s crime will increase with the new casino resort plan.

“Walk about three blocks from where any casino is, and you don’t want to be there,” he said. “A lot of people that gamble can’t afford to be doing what they’re doing, too.”

Maxwell Bombik, junior marketing major, said he knows from being in Atlantic City that crime is attracted to casinos.

“I think the entire campus will go broke, but I think everybody will have fun doing it,” Bombik said.

The resort complex will differ from West Virginia’s Mountaineer and Wheeling Island casinos, according to both Casey and Chaffee.

“This will be much more upscale,” Chaffee said. He also contended that a casino would not change the core makeup of the area.

Contact religion and culture reporter Steven Harbaugh at [email protected].