Caesars Entertainment has been hit by a massive fine after obtaining approval to acquire Centaur Gaming’s Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park racinos.
After offering $1.7bn (€1.4bn) to acquire Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand racinos, Caesars Entertainment must now pay an additional $1m (€862,127.25) based on a fine imposed by the Indiana Gaming Commission. The Commission signed off on the acquisition of the Centaur Gaming properties but imposed the huge fine due to Caesar’s attempts to avoid paying a $50m (€43.1m) licensing transfer fee to the state.
Caesars Entertainment agreed to pay the $1m (€862,127.25) fine in an effort to settle allegations that the company was in violation of public trust and confidence in the integrity of the state’s casino industry. The fine is one of the largest ever imposed in the state and was handed down due to efforts by Caesars to avoid a large licensing fee transfer that was required within the acquisition of the Hoosier Park racino in Anderson owned by Centaur Gaming.
Back in March, Tim Donovan, the general counsel for Caesars, and Libby Cierzniak, an outside lobbyist for the brand, threatened to cancel the project to move the company’s Horseshoe Southern Indiana riverboat casino from water to land – a $90m (€77.5m) planned affair – unless the Commission agreed to remove the $50m (€43.1m) fee for the license transfer for Hoosier Park.
The Commission viewed these efforts as inappropriate and an attempt to pressure the gaming regulators into removing the fee that was set based on state law. When a settlement agreement was reached between the Commission and Caesars, members of the group agreed that the actions by Caesars could undermine public confidence and trust in the integrity of the Indiana gaming industry.
Reportedly, the settlement agreement was signed by the Commission and Caesars back in March but not revealed to the public until the Commission meeting last week. During the meeting, a vice president for Caesars, Sue Carletta, said that the company takes “full responsibility for the matters that led to the settlement agreement”.
On top of the $1m (€862,127.25) that Caesars must pay to the state, the company also agreed to improve their compliance training and to enhance their protocols for monitoring and vetting communications between employees and representatives.
During the meeting, when news of the fine was made public, Caesars Entertainment was also given final regulatory approval to acquire the two properties, Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand. Both see over six million visitors each year and serve the central region of the state including Indianapolis. Visitors to both locations can take part in horse racing via live and simulcast offerings, plus electronic table games, and slot machines.
Caesars should finalize the takeover by August, increasing their global footprint to a total of 49 locations. With the acquisition of the two properties, Caesars will control four of the five largest revenue-generating casinos in the state.
Mark Frissora, Caesars CEO, said: “This acquisition represents an outstanding opportunity to expand our footprint in a growing region while also leveraging our Total Rewards loyalty network to benefit the customers of Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park.”