Eldorado-Caesars Merger Gets Final Approval in New Jersey

  • New Jersey Casino Control Commission voted 2-0 in favor of the merger
  • Approval by the state regulator requires the company to meet 40 conditions
  • No Atlantic City Eldorado/Caesars property can close within five years
  • $400m has to be invested in the company's Atlantic City casinos in three years
pen ticking approved box
The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has voted in favor of the Eldorado-Caesars merger, the final regulatory approval the companies needed. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A major milestone

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission approved the acquisition of Caesars Entertainment by Eldorado Resorts on Friday by a 2-0 vote after hearing hours of testimony spread over three days. This was the final regulatory hurdle in the way of the $17.3bn merger.

The commission is normally made up of three members, but former commissioner Sharon Anne Harrington retired at the start of July. Thus, only chairman James Plousis and commissioner Alisa Cooper cast votes.

requirement to make $400m worth of investments in its Atlantic City properties

As part of the approval, the new combined company must meet 40 conditions. Among them is a requirement to make $400m worth of investments in its Atlantic City properties over a three-year period. If the sale of Bally’s to Twin River does not go through, the company will need to put another $125m into a trust account for improvements. An assurance that no property will be closed within five years was also required. 

Competition concerns

The vote was originally supposed to be held on Thursday, but two Atlantic City casinos submitted petitions in an attempt to provide testimony before a decision was made.

Ocean Casino Resort and Hard Rock Atlantic City wanted to express their concerns regarding competition and market saturation. The Commission deemed the requests too late and did not allow the casinos to give any testimony.

Commissioners themselves said they were worried that the newly formed company would have a competitive advantage in the region. Of the nine casinos in Atlantic City, four of them are currently either owned by Caesars or Eldorado. Eldorado owns the Tropicana Atlantic City, while Caesars owns Harrah’s Resort at Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City. Caesars also owns Bally’s Atlantic City, but struck a deal with Twin River Holdings in April to sell the property for $25m.

Final regulatory step

Eldorado and Caesars have had to get approval from numerous regulators in recent weeks. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the deal in June.

The Nevada Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board gave their seal of approval to the deal on July 8, while the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and Indiana Gaming Commission approved the merger in the past week. Regulatory agencies in other states had previously given the green light to the acquisition. 

The new company will be called Caesars Entertainment and will be listed on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol CZR. The deal was first announced in June 2019 and missed its original deadline of March 25. Eldorado has been paying daily ticking fees to Caesars for every month that had passed after the deadline.

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