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 Casino Cleveland.

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 is right in downtown Cleveland

Jack Casino is right in downtown Cleveland

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 lineup of JACK’s 100-plus table games includes all the favorites like blackjack, roulette, craps and even crapless craps.

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 thirty table poker room. No limit Texas hold’em games go from $1/3 to $5/10 while they also offer 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’s lineup of restaurants include, among others, “The Buffet,” local favorite Corky & Lenny’s Restaurant Deli, and a new Wahlburgers, at the parking structure building across the street.

(Here you’ll find the JACK Casino Cleveland in red, along with the Hard Rock Racino in green, and the JACK Racino in blue)

JACK Casino Cleveland Parking

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.

During special events however, this parking garage can fill quickly as it is right across the street from Quicken Loans Arena (where the Cleveland Cavaliers play), and a few hundred feet away from Progressive Field, home to the Cleveland Indians.

As a result, in October 2017, JACK purchased the former May & Co. garage right across the street and directly east of the casino. The ten story structure is expected to add an additional 670 parking spaces for casino customers, according to a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Nevertheless, parking here can be expensive. It costs $25 on weekends, and even more during busy events downtown, (i.e. basketball/baseball games).

However it’s much less on weekdays ($6 for one hour), and totally free if you get your ticket validated from the casino based on your play. To do this you must sign up (and use) their player’s card.

You can get free parking with one hour of play in the poker room, or a half-hour play at a table game. Five hundred JACK points on the slots will also enable you to park for free.

JACK casino players with player’s card at the “C” and “K” levels get free parking.

Address & Phone

100 Public Square
Cleveland, OH 44114

(216) 297-4777

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. In addition, the casino is non-smoking.

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)

Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park

The Hard Rock is located 17 miles (or 26.6 kilometers), south of downtown Cleveland. This equates to a 30 to 45 minute drive.

This 200,000 square foot venue is located right next to the horse racing track where they run harness races in season. They also offer simulcast wagering on harness races throughout the country.

Inside the racino, you’ll find 2,300 VLTs. In somewhat of a fun twist, they have some outdoor gaming patios where you can play the video lottery terminals outside.

Per Ohio law, the Hard Rock is not allowed to offer any table games.

The four restaurants (not including a Starbucks-type coffee place), include a buffet, a steakhouse named after famous Brown’s quarterback Bernie Kosar, and of course, a Hard Rock Café.

With a 2,100 seat capacity, The Hard Rock Live! Concert venue hosts some of the biggest names in comedy and music.

Parking is free, and the Hard Rock has 3,000 parking spaces.

Address & Phone

10777 Northfield Road
Northfield, OH. 44067

(330) 908-7625

JACK Thistledown Racino

The downtown Cleveland JACK’S sister property is 11 miles (17 km) southeast of town. This comes out to 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 May into October. This is in addition to the simulcast betting offered throughout the year.

You’ll find five restaurant options at the racino, not including the restaurant at the horse racing area that is open only during the live racing season.

Address & Phone

21501 Emery Road
North Randall, OH. 44128

(216) 662-8600

(Photo courtesy of ThisisCleveland.com)