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NORTHFIELD -- When the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park opens its doors Wednesday afternoon, it will also open the door to gambling competition in Northeast Ohio.

Dan Gilbert and Caesar's are partners in the two existing gaming establishments already operating, the Horseshoe Casino and Thistledown Racino.

A number of casino patrons are already planning visits to the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Parkto check out the latest gaming palace.

"I really want to go see it," Diane Jameson said.

Ohio used to be a gambling desert.

But as of Wednesday, there will be three gaming operations. A fourth, a racino, is set to open in Youngstown next year.

And Gilbert and Caesar's have until mid-June to decide whether to transfer Thistledown's license to the Akron area.

Some experts and gamblers agree that the gambling world here is getting crowded and may be verging on a glut for a region that's not growing or adding population.

Monthly casino revenues have been down compared to last year. The novelty wears off.

"Ohio went from nothing. Now they have five, six and maybe seven places. I think it's too much. ... It will be saturated pretty soon," Tom Piscatello of Brecksville said.

The Rocksino is appealing to a younger crowd with the iconic Hard Rock brand, memorabilia and concerts.

It's hoping to draw customers from southern Ohio and neighboring states.

"It's important to have a compelling project. ... If someone wants entertainment, there's nowhere else to go. ... We think we have a nice mix of games and, hopefully, will get some regular customers," Rocksino President Jon Lucas said.

In earlier interviews, Lucas jabbed at the competition, calling the Rocksino "spectacular and contemporary." That's an apparent reference to the madeover Higbee Department store and Thistledown racetrack.

Asked for comment on the new competition, Cleveland Horseshoe Casino and Thistledown Racino spokesperson Shannon Mortland said, "Though we believe the Ohio gaming market still has room to grow, Horseshoe Cleveland, Horseshoe Cincinnati and Thistledown Racino were sized, designed and developed fully anticipating these new gaming properties would be coming online. Our properties have established strong and enduring positions in their markets, which we expect to retain by providing outstanding customer service and our industry-leading guest loyalty program, Total Rewards."

(Her statement was received too late for inclusion in the our broadcast story.)

Competition? It's on.

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