Investigators study Cincinnati casino accident; at least a dozen injured

CINCINNATI — Federal investigators are looking into an accident at a $400 million Cincinnati casino project — half owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp. — that injured about a dozen construction workers.

Cincinnati’s fire chief said a crew was pouring concrete Friday when a support beam gave way, sending the workers tumbling 30 feet to the ground. The fire chief said the injuries are mainly bruises and bumps, and possibly some broken bones, with seven workers known to have sought hospital care.

No one was under the area when it collapsed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says its inspectors are on the scene.

The Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is being developed by Ohio-based Rock Gaming in partnership with Las Vegas-based Caesar’s Entertainment. The companies are also developing a downtown Cleveland casino where a 60-foot by 60-foot second-level section of the parking deck gave way while concrete was being poured on Dec. 16. No one was injured.

There is "absolutely zero connection" between the collapse in Cincinnati and the accident in Cleveland, Rock Gaming President Steve Rosenthal said. "These are two different construction management companies, two different contractors, two different sites, two different areas."

The development in the northeast corner of the city’s center is expected to open in spring 2013. The Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is supposed to attract nearly 6 million visitors and create 1,700 jobs, said Lee Dillard, vice president of finance for the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. It will feature three restaurants, about 2,000 slot machines, 85 table games and a 31-table World Series of Poker room.

The general contractor overseeing the casino project has a clean safety record with OSHA since 2006 when it was penalized for four violations and paid a $3,100 fine.

Jessie Folmar, a spokeswoman for Cincinnati-based Messer Construction Co., said the company is trying to learn what happened Friday.

State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said construction workers have been hurrying to make up time lost during negotiations over gaming tax policy, but added: "I don’t think they’re knowingly or willfully sacrificing safety or quality for time."

The Associated Press and Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Howard Stutz contributed to this report.

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