Eldorado-Caesars Merger Faces Latest Hurdle as New Jersey Delays Approval Decision

  • New Jersey Casino Control Commission postponed its decision on the planned deal until Friday
  • Two competing Atlantic City casinos filed petitions to provide testimony but were rejected
  • New Jersey is the final state that needs to grant regulatory approval for the merger to go ahead
  • The two casino operators currently own four of the nine casinos located in Atlantic City
multiple instances of word "delayed" appear on digital display board
The New Jersey casino regulator has delayed its decision on the Eldorado-Caesars merger until Friday following the filing of petitions by two casino competitors. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Voting to take place Friday after petitions received from casinos

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has postponed its decision on the planned Eldorado Resorts acquisition of Caesars Entertainment, which will see the two casino operators join forces in a deal valued at around $17.3bn.

The state’s casino regulator was set to deliberate whether to green-light the merger on July 16. However, two Atlantic City casino competitors submitted petitions on Thursday requesting the opportunity to provide testimony regarding the potential deal. 

requests had been submitted too late

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement attorneys informed the commissioners about the petitions from Ocean Casino Resort and Hard Rock Atlantic City. The commission ultimately rejected the pleas, with chairman James Plousis and commissioner Alisa Cooper concluding that the requests had been submitted too late.

Deliberations on the merger will now take place Friday morning, followed by a vote. New Jersey is the final state required to grant regulatory approval for the Eldorado-Caesars deal to go through.

The operators’ presence in New Jersey

The two Atlantic City casinos behind the delay were hoping to highlight casino saturation and competition in the region before a regulatory decision was made. 

Eldorado Resorts currently operates the Tropicana Atlantic City. If the Caesars takeover goes ahead, the combined entity will also control Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. Caesars is set to sell Bally’s Atlantic City for $25m to Twin River Worldwide Holdings, but the deal has not yet been completed. The two parties currently own four of the nine casinos located in Atlantic City.

Most Atlantic City casino properties reopened on July 2 after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to shut down on March 16. The Borgata will be the last gambling facility to reopen its doors on July 26.

A slow-going merger process

The merger deal was first announced in June 2019 and has since overcome many bumps along the way. Following major delays, over the recent weeks it got the necessary approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state regulators in Nevada and Indiana.

many bumps along the way

To receive regulatory approval from these various bodies, the two companies have to meet certain conditions. These mainly concern the sales of certain casinos currently under their ownership, including three casinos in Indiana.

The original end date for the merger completion was March 25, 2020. Eldorado has been paying daily ticking fees to Caesars for each month that passes over the missed deadline. If the deal does not go ahead, Eldorado will have to pay Caesars $836.8m.