By Steve Beauregard
Cleveland, Ohio is that rare American city to have a casino right in the heart of its downtown core.
In addition, the city on the shores of Lake Erie has two racinos. (More on those in a minute).
Cleveland’s only casino is the Jack Cleveland Casino.
Opened in May of 2012 as the “Horseshoe Cleveland” it was the first legal casino in the state of Ohio. It became a JACK Entertainment property in 2016, changing its name accordingly.
JACK Casino Cleveland
Cleveland’s only casino doesn’t really look like a casino.
That may be because it’s actually a remodeled department store. In fact, the former Higbee Department Store in the city’s Public Square is the same one little Ralphie and his family visited in the iconic holiday movie, “A Christmas Story.”
Nowadays, it’s a bustling four-floor, 300,000 square foot gaming venue, complete with nearly 100,000 square feet of gaming floor space, bars, restaurants and more.
The building is beautiful and spacious, with high ceilings, beautiful chandeliers, and an Art deco vibe.
JACK Cleveland Casino Games
On the gaming side, there are 1,300 slot machines, of which 200 are video poker machines. Their high-limit room has slots up to $100 per pull.
(The JACK Casino Cleveland is in black, the MGM Northfield Park in green, and the JACK Thistledown Racino in blue)
The lineup of JACK’s nearly 100 table games includes all the favorites like blackjack, roulette, craps, and even crapless craps.
As for table minimums? Limits can change of course, but $10 minimums seem to be standard. One of the craps table had $25 minimums recently on a busy night. I also believe there is the terrible 6/5 blackjack at those levels, but 3/2 Blackjack when moving up limits.
They also spread everything from baccarat to Crazy 4 Poker, to Pai Gow, Mississippi Stud, 4 Card Poker, and Let it Ride (among others).
JACK’s Synergy Arena is a high energy gaming section full of stadium-style electronic gaming machines – the kind with a live dealer but where you bet electronically at your own machine. This area has the feature of allowing you to charge your phone and even order drinks at your station. There is also have a lineup of DJ’s performing at night.
JACK’s thirty table poker room is on the third floor. They spread No limit Texas hold’em games from $1/3 to $5/10, along with my favorite, $4/8 limit hold’em.
You Omaha players will find $1/2 Pot Limit Omaha and $4/8 Limit Omaha.
In addition to tournaments, the poker room runs a plethora of high hand promotions.
JACK Casino is not, technically, a hotel/casino, however the Ritz Hotel Cleveland is in the same complex.
JACK Cleveland Casino Bars & Restaurants
JACK’s lineup of restaurants include, among others, The Seven Chefs Buffet.
The seven stations here include: Asian, Italian, American, Carving, Salad, Pastry and a “Shuffle stations.” This stations has locally-sourced fruits and vegetables.
Other dining options include a gourmet burger joint called, “Stacked,” Nonna Pizza,local favorite Corky & Lenny’s, and a Wahlburgers at the parking structure building across the street.
Bars include the Legends Bar, Rock Bar and Lounge, and Vintage 51.
JACK Casino Cleveland Parking Fee
Customers can park at JACK’s large six story structure across from the casino on Ontario Street, just southeast of the casino. There are approximately 1,300 parking spaces.
A heated overhead pedestrian skyway connects the parking garage to the main casino. The garage is well-lit with security cameras.
Parking is not free, and can get pretty pricey (more on that below).
Normal parking rates on weekdays:
1 – 2 Hours: $10
Over 2 Hours: $15
After 4 PM: $15
Weekend Parking Rate: $25 (all day)
During special events, these rates are thrown out the 6th floor window.
Since this parking garage is right across the street from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (where the Cleveland Cavaliers play), and a few hundred feet away from Progressive Field, (home to the Cleveland Indians), the spaces can fill quickly.
As such, parking rates increase during these games, concerts and other events. The exact rate is not posted by the casino, however $50 is typical. Yes, you read that correctly: $50.
You can however, receive “free” parking by gambling and using your player’s card.
JACK Casino Parking Comps
JACK casino has four different player card levels: J, A, C, and K (go figure).
People with a “J” card get free parking if there do one of three things (1) Play table games for at least 1/2 hour using their card, (2) Get 500 JACK points on a slot or electronic game, or (3) play one hour of live poker.
People with an “A” card get free parking the same as above, except they only have to accumulate 250 JACK points.
JACK casino players with player’s card at the “C” and “K” levels get free parking.
Lastly, if you are 55 or older, you can get free parking Monday – Friday, from 9 AM to 6 PM, assuming there aren’t any special events taking place.
Address, Phone and Website
Cleveland, OH 44114
Official Website: JACK Cleveland Casino
* You have to be 21 years or older to play at JACK Casino Cleveland.
* A couple of things that makes JACK a little different than other non-Indian casinos: due to Ohio law, they don’t serve free drinks to players. There is drink waitress service, albeit at a price.
* The casino is non-smoking, however there is a heated outdoor smoking area.
* One of the few drawbacks to JACK Cleveland Casino, (other than their complicated parking scheme and lack of free drinks), is the presence of panhandlers right outside the casino doors. In other words, if the slots or craps game treated you right, you may not want to flash your winnings outside when leaving the place.
Other Casinos Near Cleveland
Cleveland has two nearby racinos, which are a combination of horse racing track and casino. However these racinos do not offer slot machines, but rather the less-popular video lottery terminals, or VLTs.
While they can appear to be similar in looks to a traditional slot machine, VLTs are more of an electronic bingo pull tab.
(Related: Closest casino to Cincinnati, Ohio)
MGM Northfield Park
Previously known as the The Hard Rock Rocksino, the newly rebranded MGM Northfield Park opened in April of 2019.
Located between Cleveland and Akron, the MGM Northfield is situated 17 miles (or 26.6 kilometers), south of downtown Cleveland. This equates to a 30 to 45 minute drive.
In terms of gaming revenue, it is the busiest casino in Ohio.
This 200,000 square foot venue is located right next to the horse racing track where they run harness races in season, (222 nights per year). They also offer simulcast wagering on harness races throughout the country.
Inside the 65,0000 square foot casino part of the racino, you’ll find 2,300 VLTs. In somewhat of a fun twist, they have a climate-controlled 8,000 square foot outdoor gaming patio – complete with 240 of the video lottery terminals.
Per Ohio law, the MGM Northfield is not allowed to offer any table games.
MGM Northfield Restaurants & Entertainment
The four restaurants here (not including the Roasted Bean coffee), include a buffet, a steakhouse named after famous Brown’s quarterback Bernie Kosar, the Concerto Italian Kitchen and the TAP Sports Bar.
With a 1,900 seat capacity, The racino’s Center Stage concert venue hosts big names in comedy and music.
Another venue, The Neon Room, is more intimate, with just 300 seats. It too, will have live music and comedians.
Parking is free, and there are 3,000 parking spaces.
Address, Phone & Website
Northfield, OH. 44067
Website: MGM Northfield Park
You must be 21 years or older to gamble here. The casino is open 24 hours a day.
JACK Thistledown Racino
The downtown Cleveland JACK’S sister property is 11 miles (17 km) southeast of town in North Randall. it’s anywhere from a 20 minute drive up to almost an hour at rush hour.
Unlike the downtown JACK, this casino is not a Vegas-type joint, as they only have horse racing, and video lottery terminals, (no table games).
The multi-floor building has 1,400 of these VLTs, and JACK Thistledown has live horse racing from late May into October. This is in addition to the simulcast betting offered throughout the year.
You’ll find four restaurant options at the racino, which include the the more-upscale Millcreek Grille, Nonna Pizza, American Burger Bar, and Steaks & Rings.
Address & Phone
North Randall, OH. 44128
Unlike JACK Cleveland Casino, parking at JACK Thistledown is free.
(Photo courtesy of ThisisCleveland.com, MGM International and Jack Entertainment.com/Thistledown via Wikipedia)