Rock Ohio Caesars is projecting an early 2012 opening date for its downtown Cleveland project, which would make it the first to open in the state of Ohio. The opening date is slightly delayed from the prior projection of late 2011 for the casino, which will carry the Horseshoe name. Construction on the project was restarted the week of June 20 after being halted for a month over a dispute on Ohio’s Commercial Activity Tax. The tax, which Gov. John Kasich had sought to impose on all casino wagers, will only be applied to gaming revenue, or wagers after payouts to patrons is deducted.

Rock Ohio, a joint venture between Caesars Entertainment and Rock Gaming, a group headed by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, is spending more than $350 million to convert approximately 300,000 square feet of space over four floors of the Higbee Building into a gaming destination. More than 2,000 slot machines, 65 table games, a high-limits area, a World Series of Poker room, and a VIP player’s lounge will occupy the 96,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino will offer an international buffet restaurant and a food court with local partners providing regional fare. A main-floor feature bar rounds out the food, beverage and entertainment offerings.

In a tour with local media on Wednesday, Rock Gaming principal Jeff Cohen said that the project to date had spent $30 million on 20 local construction contracts, and that, by year’s end, will have committed to another $60 million to $70 million of construction spend. He added that a lot of the “great tradition” of the Higbee Building is being incorporated into the casino design. “To have an opportunity to take a great building like this and bring it back to life is very exciting,” said Cohen.