WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) - Warren County Commissioners okayed plans Tuesday for a new racino that is expected to bring with it 700 jobs.
The combination harness racing track-casino will be located at the corner of State Route 63 and Union Road just off Interstate 75 near Monroe.
Keith Stephens has been playing the ponies for more than 40 years, so he knows a good bet when he sees one and he thinks the new racino could be a sure thing.
"People get good jobs and have decent benefits and good pay," Stephens says. "It's a good thing."
Warren County Commissioners certainly felt like they picked a winner.
Commissioners say taxpayers aren't on the hook for any part of the $175 million project.
"It's going to pay for itself is the number one thing," says Warren County Commissioner David Young.
In racing terms, the racino was a heavy favorite.
The only concerns expressed at Tuesday's public hearing were over the size of signs and the potential rerouting of Union Road, which representatives from Trader's World say would hurt the traffic flow into their business.
The lack of opposition took even commissioners by surprise.
"I thought there was going to be some level of folks not wanting this especially since it's within a nine iron of a church," Young says.
The racino will feature harness racing, 2,500 slot machines and a handful of restaurants.
2 NEWS asked if it would be enough to draw people with casinos and another racino opening nearby.
"It's going to be very competitive but we knew that going in so we've developed this facility planned with that in mind," says Ron Sultemeier.
As for the current harness racing track, Lebanon Raceway, which is at the county fairgrounds, commissioners see a new hoof-print in its future.
They say they have the money thanks in part to the racino to redevelop the property.
They're not exactly sure what will be put there but think the track and its history of horses will stay.
"My vision would be to make Warren County the Lexington of Ohio to have these equestrian centers and equestrian events to come here," Young says.
Developers still have to get approval from the state's racing and lottery commissions, but they hope to break ground in December with the racino being ready to open sometime in early 2014.
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