Cleveland Casino One Step Closer to Opening

Cleveland Casino One Step Closer to Opening

Spectrum Gaming Group, a consultant who performed background checks on Rock Ohio, has recommended the Ohio Casino Control Commission grant an operator’s license to Rock Ohio for Cleveland’s Horseshoe Casino.

There were a couple of concerns. According to the Spectrum report, Caesars, a 20% owner of the Cleveland casino, faces over $20 billion in debt, a point Caesars disputes. As a result, Spectrum recommends an annual review of Caesars finances. However, since Rock Ohio owns 80% of the casino and Caesars has other ‘deep pockets,’ Spectrum did not feel there was any reason for this to prevent granting of an operator’s license.

Of greater concern were past incidents involving principals Dan Gilbert and Roger Dillard III. In 2009, Gilbert made a $60,000 loan to the former mayor of Detroit, who was convicted of corruption charges. Spectrum concluded that Gilbert probably used poor judgment, but the loan was nothing but a loan, not extortion or bribery. In 1981, while a student at Michigan State University, Gilbert was arrested for running a sports betting operation on campus. He went through a diversion program and was never convicted. Despite these concerns, Spectrum still recommended the OCCC grant Gilbert a license.

The concerns with Dillard, the vice president of finance for Rock Ohio, are a little more serious. Dillard’s CPA license in North Carolina was forfeited in 2006. It was later determined that the forfeiture was a result of Dillard misrepresenting his CLE compliance. Spectrum has recommended Dillard testify at a hearing on this issue before any further action is taken on his license application. Rock Ohio has a back-up. Jonathan Howard has applied for a license and would step into the roll Dillard currently occupies should Dillard not be granted a license.

A vote on Rock Ohio’s operator’s license is expected at the next OCCC meeting on May 2.

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