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Economy and Business

Big changes could be in store for horse racing
To protect their major city markets, Ohio's new casino owners may want some of the state's best known tracks to move down the road

Tim Rudell
Thistledown in North Randall is a landmark thoroughbred track, and one of Ohio's oldest horse racing venues still in operation.
Courtesy of Rudell
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In The Region:

The coming of Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland may mean the going the Thistledown race track.  And, WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports that Thistledown could end up in the Akron-Canton area.

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The state is preparing to let Ohio’s seven race tracks have slot machines. That could mean competition for Ohio’s four new casinos.

But in some cases, the people who own the casinos also own the horse tracks and are planning to move their tracks to new cities.

Cleveland casino owner Rock Gaming has an option to buy Thistledown, and says it has no plans to move the track.  But industry rumors persist that Thistledown will shift from the Cleveland suburb of North Randall  to the Akron-Canton region.

National racing writer and former Kent State University business school professor Bill Shanklin says there may be multiple reasons to move the track. “People who go to horse racing are primarily male.  Slot machines are about 54 percent women--totally different demographics. And, if you put it in an area like we’re talking about, that’s going to have a lot more appeal to say, elderly females to go to, than to drive downtown and pay to park. ”

The owner of the casinos in Toledo and Columbus hopes to move tracks in those cities to Youngstown and Dayton.    

Related WKSU Stories

Penn National agrees to same casino terms
Friday, June 17, 2011

Kasich hopes for no challenge on slots-at-the-tracks
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cleveland, Cincinnati casinos to pay millions more to operate
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

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