MGM ventures into Ohio
The casino giant is ready in case the Buckeye State expands its gambling offerings
The Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park near Cleveland, OH is no more. It is now the Northfield Park racino, a basic gambling operation with big dreams – to be a major casino in Ohio if the Buckeye State moves forward with casino expansion and sports gambling. The venue is owned by MGM Resorts, which is banking on Ohio becoming more gaming-friendly in the near future.
In a convoluted game of shuffling properties, the property was purchased last year by MGM from MGM Growth Properties (MGP). That entity is a real estate investment trust (REIT) administered by MGM, and MGM paid $1 billion for the Northfield property. MGM then signed a lease with MGP to run the facilities and pay the REIT $60 million a year, as MGP only sold the venue to MGM – it didn’t sell the land on which it stands.
Northfield only offers pari-mutuel wagers and slot machines; however, it has been performing better than the state’s four full casinos. MGM is ready to take things to the next level and has deployed its team of lobbyists to convince lawmakers and figureheads in the state that expanded casino operations will benefit everyone.
Sports gambling hasn’t yet been authorized in Ohio, either, but MGM took a swing and decided to stand in the on-deck circle until it is. It signed a deal with the Boston Red Sox to become the team’s “official resort casino” and has already made its presence known at Fenway Park. MGM Northfield Park President Chris Kelley asserts, “I would love to see growth in all channels. But I also realize that it is a decision for the lawmakers and regulators.”