Fri, Jul 17, 9:03am by Mia Chapman
Gambling regulators in New Jersey have begun to consider a proposal from Nevada-based Eldorado Resorts to buy Caesars Entertainment, in a sweeping $17.3 billion deal affecting four of nine casino properties in Atlantic City.
Houma Today reports that approval by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission could come Thursday, and would be the final hurdle in Eldorado’s bid to become what Commissioner Alisa Cooper called ‘the biggest gaming company in the world’.
The casino giant would control 52 properties in 16 American states under the Caesars Entertainment brand.
“Atlantic City is going to be a significant piece of this combined company,” Eldorado chief executive Thomas Reeg testified during a daylong video hearing.
Company executives acknowledged previous understaffing at Atlantic City properties and promised that future job cuts at the combined company’s properties would be cleared first by state regulators.
A $25 million sale of Bally’s Atlantic City hotel-casino by Caesars Entertainment and VICI Properties to Rhode Island-based Twin River Worldwide Holdings is pending.
That would leave Eldorado with three resorts within driving distance of New York and Philadelphia: Caesars, Harrah’s and the Tropicana Atlantic City.
The company is committing to keeping the properties open for at least five years.
Eldorado chief financial officer Bret Yunker promised $400 million in improvements to the three properties over the next three years, followed by reinvestment of five per cent of revenues annually.
“Atlantic City, where it sits, is in the middle of a gigantic population centre,” Mr Reeg said.
“It’s our job to make our properties attractive enough for people to get in the car or get in that charter plane.”
Nevada casino regulators approved the buyout this week, affecting properties that include Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Flamingo and Linq on the Las Vegas Strip.
Indiana casino regulators approved the deal on Friday with a requirement that the merged company sell three of its five casinos there.
There are 13 state-licensed casinos in the state, and one tribal casino.
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission gave its approval on Monday.
The Federal Trade Commission accepted the plan on June 26, after Eldorado agreed to sell properties in Kansas City, Missouri, South Lake Tahoe, California and Louisiana.
Finalising the cash-and-stock purchase plan took more than a year and was delayed by casino closures nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, Reeg and other company executives said.
Reno-based Eldorado would retain 56 per cent of the merged company.
It would continue operations and stock trades under the name Caesars Entertainment.Executives and regulators on Wednesday repeatedly referred to it as ‘new Caesars’.
Billionaire American investor Carl Icahn would own more than 10 per cent of the combined company and would be the largest shareholder, Reeg said.
Icahn acquired a large number of Caesars shares after the company emerged from bankruptcy protection in late 2017, and pushed for the sale.
— Las Vegas Review-Journal (@reviewjournal) July 15, 2020
Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment are a step closer to becoming the single largest casino operator in the United States after meetings held in Nevada this week.
Calvin Ayre reported in early July that the potential merger between the two companies has been awaiting approval in Nevada, New Jersey and Indiana – the last three states on the list – and received the thumbs up from regulators in Nevada this week.
In an announcement made by Eldorado yesterday, it confirmed that both the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission had said yes to the merger, a decision that didn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
It was previously forecast that there would be no more hurdles after the Federal Trade Commission gave its approval last month, and the three remaining states to sign off on the deal were thought to have been waiting for that decision before moving forward.
New Jersey is expected to give its position on the merger when regulators meet on July 15.
As was the case with Nevada, no major obstacles are expected in the Garden State.
Indiana, however, might cause an issue, as some regulators there have already put up a little resistance.
They have asserted that there is a lack of horseracing experience, even though Eldorado is behind tracks in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
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