Dan Gilbert Building a Casino Next to Cleveland Cavaliers’ Arena

by October 18, 2011

Even though LeBron James infamously took his talents to South Beach last summer, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is still reaping massive financial benefits, in large part thanks to their fruitful association. ESPN explains: “On Election Night in 2009, Dan Gilbert threw a late-night party on the practice court inside Quicken Loans Arena. The extravagance in the room called to mind a mob-movie wedding reception, complete with live music, roaming waiters and five-star cuisine served on fine linens. … That night, Ohio voters passed Issue 3, which was a measure to amend the state constitution to allow four casinos to be built. Gilbert, set to own two of them, and a casino company poured $35 million into the project and ran an intense and wide-ranging campaign. With victory secured, they were on the road to a windfall that some estimate could be in the billions. … LeBron James was invited but wasn’t there, though his presence hung in the room. After casino measures had failed four times over the previous 18 years in Ohio, Gilbert had pulled the sword from the stone with an all-encompassing deal that essentially gave him and his partners a monopoly on gambling in the state. He got there with an attractive plan and timing, plus his personal sterling reputation in Ohio. But mostly he got there on the back of the massive popularity of the Cavs at the time, which of course was powered by James. … At the time, James and Gilbert weren’t enemies. They were still on the same team and occasionally James even sought Gilbert’s advice on investments or other business matters. Now, of course, they publically exchange zingers without actually using each other’s name. They’re even more ruthless in private matters, neither passing up a chance to grate the other if possible. As the 2009-10 season opened, James was well aware that July 1, 2010, was going to be a huge moment in his career. For Gilbert, the big event was that referendum, which passed thanks in part to the popularity James brought the Cavs and Gilbert. No matter what James and the Miami Heat accomplish in the future — even if they end up making Gilbert eat his infamous words guaranteeing a Cavs title before there’s a single parade held for the Heat — Gilbert’s business victory has already been assured. James has left the Cavaliers, but his seven seasons with the team played a valuable role in likely making sure Gilbert will become a permanent fixture on the Forbes 400 list — where he currently ranks 293rd at $1.5 billion, higher than at any time when James was an employee. … When it is completely finished it will literally be attached to the Cavs. A walkway will connect the arena and the casino, where fans will be able to park and walk to the game past the gaming tables and slots. The more fans that attend Cavs games, the more people there will be in the casino on game nights. Park in the casino, have dinner there, walk into the arena past the slots and blackjack tables, stop at a bar in the casino for a nightcap on the way out after you walk past the slots and tables again. Or stop by before or after watching the Cleveland Indians, who play next door. You don’t need an MBA to understand the business plan.”