JACK Entertainment Finalizes $745m Cincinnati Casino Sale

  • VICI Properties will acquire the JACK subsidiary and casino owner for $558m as part of the deal
  • Hard Rock International has also bought Cincinnati Casino's gaming assets for $187m
  • VICI will be leasing the property to the Hard Rock for $42.75m annually
  • The casino sale follows a number of moves by JACK Entertainment to downsize its operation
handshake over business and market documents
JACK Entertainment has finalized its sale of the JACK Cincinnati Casino to Hard Rock International and VICI Properties for $745m. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Change of ownership

JACK Entertainment has closed the sale of its JACK Casino in Cincinnati to Hard Rock International and VICI Properties. The news was announced only a couple of days after Hard Rock got approval as a new casino operator in the state, which was issued by the Ohio Casino Control Commission during its monthly meeting. 

Hard Rock got approval as a new casino operator in the state

As part of the deal worth $745m, VICI Properties acquires the subsidiary of JACK, which is the owner of the casino property. This part of the agreement is in itself worth $558m. VICI Properties is a real estate investment trust which is an offshoot of Caesars Entertainment. 

Leasing agreement

VICI Properties has a leasing agreement in place with Hard Rock International, which will be the casino operator and the owner of all of the gaming assets. The gaming assets deal was worth $187m.

The leasing agreement will see Hard Rock lease the property for $42.75m annually. This is a 15-year lease agreement initially, with options to extend it for four five-year periods. 

What the future holds

The CEO of JACK Entertainment, Mark Dunkeson, spoke about the winding up of this sale. He said he is confident Hard Rock International will take the casino to the next level. This comes after JACK Entertainment spent “10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment developing JACK Cincinnati Casino from the ground up.”

The casino facility has over 1,800 gaming machines, as well as over 100 table games. The size of the casino floor is 100,000 square foot, and it will now be called the Hard Rock Cincinnati. It originally opened in 2013 as the Horseshoe Cincinnati before being rebranded in 2016 as the JACK Cincinnati Casino. Its average monthly gambling revenue during 2018 was $17m.

Turfway sale not closed

The deal to sell the Cincinnati Casino was originally agreed upon in April. The Kentucky racetrack Turfway Park, situated about twenty minutes away from Cincinnati, was supposed to be included in the package.

However, the Turfway sale is still in the works and will take another few months to complete. This is mainly because the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission still needs to give the deal the green light. The price of the Turfway sale is in the region of $35m.

Potential competition

There is a potential spanner in the works for the Turfway deal, due to the fact that the Churchill Downs racing facility in Kentucky is getting a $200m investment.

This would see thoroughbred racing at the track, as well as the installation of historical horse racing machines. The races held here would begin in 2020 and fall on the same dates as the Turfway events.

JACK and Hard Rock International are working as a team to try and stop these race clashes from happening. Hard Rock is willing to invest as much as $100m at Turfway for extensive renovations and the installation of historical horse racing machines. 

It will be down to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to finalize the racing calendar for 2020. The Commission has been critical of the way JACK Entertainment managed the Turfway track in the past. 

Downsizing of JACK Entertainment

The selling of the Cincinnati Casino is just one of a number of downsizing moves by JACK Entertainment. It already sold its Greektown Casino and Hotel in Detroit at the beginning of 2019. Penn National Gaming bought it for about $1bn. 

one of a number of downsizing moves by JACK Entertainment

With the closing of the Cincinnati Casino sale and the pending sale of the Turfway racetrack, JACK will only have two properties left in its portfolio. These are the JACK Cleveland Casino and a racino called JACK Thistledown, which is near to Cleveland. JACK also has a stake in the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, but the company is also looking at leaving this market. 

Due to the Greektown sale, 92 employees lost their jobs. The executive structure of the company has also been rearranged. Former CEO Matt Cullen was replaced by Dunkeson at the start of September. Cullen is still the chairman of the board at JACK Entertainment.

Online gambling deals 

Despite liquidating a lot of its casino positions, JACK Entertainment is making some moves in the sports betting and online gambling markets.

It has signed a deal with the Kambi Group to power its online and retail sportsbooks. It also recently entered into a similar agreement with GAN for its online gambling operations.  

Sports betting is not yet legal in Ohio, but JACK is looking to be well-positioned in case legislation gets approval on the matter.