PA Gaming Approval Of Eldorado Caesars Merger Will Have Some Market Effects

Written By Kevin Shelly on February 15, 2020 - Last Updated on August 9, 2022
Caesars purchase by Eldorado approved in PA

Eldorado Resorts, Inc. got approval on Wednesday from Pennsylvania gaming regulators to proceed with their planned purchase of Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

That’s a low hurdle, given the only property owned by Caesars in PA is Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester, Delaware County. The property is not technically owned by Caesers, but by a real estate investment trust. However, Caesars operates the property under a lease-back agreement.

Approvals by additional jurisdictions and the feds are still pending.

Changes likely minor in PA, but could be significant in NJ

For instance, in Atlantic City, an issue of undue economic concentration that would need to get addressed first is a possibility. The corporate Caesars and Eldorado together own Bally’s, Harrah’s, and the Tropicana, in addition to a Caesars property.

Eldorado hopes to close “in the first half of 2020,” according to their announcement. The value of the deal is $17.3 billion.

But the planned sale should trigger changes, such as finally bringing an online sportsbook for Harrah’s in Philly and other Caesars properties, according to a gaming industry consultant with experience in PA and New Jersey.

Caesars’ executive staff, and regional leadership, targeted for trim

Small changes are already underway, such as “starting to release executives” who hold duplicative titles and responsibilities, said the consultant.

That will primarily happen in the vast Caesars’ executive staff in Las Vegas. But some regional executives could see a shakeup, per the PlayPennsylvania source. Eldorado has its corporate headquarters in Reno, NV.

There is also speculation that Eldorado may take the opportunity to relocate from Reno to Vegas. That would be more central and accessible, added the consultant.

Economic concentration in AC may be an issue

If the economic concentration issue comes up, it could be resolved in one of two ways. First, selling off an Atlantic City property. Or second, giving up a gaming license and operating a property as a stand-alone hotel.

The consultant added that only Harrah’s had maintenance investments in recent years.

Eldorado is a leading casino entertainment company that owns and operates twenty-three properties in eleven states.

Eldorado’s properties feature approximately 24,100 slot machines, VLTs and e-tables, about 670 table games, and over 11,400 hotel rooms.

Sale of Caesars pushed by Carl Icahn

Activist investor Carl Icahn nudged the sale of Caesars along. Icahn, who won a seat on Caesars’ board, added members of his choosing to said board, and then won the right to hand-pick Tony Rodio as the CEO to guide its sale.

Rodio had previously served as the CEO of Tropicana Entertainment, which Icahn had sold to Eldorado in 2018. Icahn was involved in Atlantic City casinos for nearly 20 years, according to The Press of Atlantic City, so the local connections run deep.

For interested gambling parties in PA, the official approval from the PGCB could mean the long wait for online casino and sportsbook carrying the renown Caesars name will soon be over.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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