Indiana Gaming Commission Approves $250m Sale of Caesars Casino to Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

  • EBCI will operate the casino under the Caesars brand, also offering Caesars Rewards
  • Caesars had to sell the property because of its $17.3bn merger with Eldorado Resorts in 2020
  • EBCI only acquired the casino's operating rights; VICI Properties owns the actual property
  • The operator has also sold its Tropicana Casino, but will keep the Horseshoe Hammond
Approved stamp
US-based casino giant Caesars Entertainment has received Indiana Gaming Commission approval to sell its Caesars Southern Indiana casino to EBCI Holdings for $250m. [Image:]

The final regulatory hurdle

In the state of Indiana, the gaming regulator has given its seal of approval to a deal between Caesars Entertainment and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Under the terms of the agreement, the former will sell its Caesars Southern Indiana casino to the tribe for a total of $250m.

The Indiana Gaming Commission approved the sale during a meeting on Wednesday. EBCI Holdings, a company run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, agreed to purchase the casino in December 2020. The tribal organization will retain the Caesars brand at the casino and continue to offer the Caesars Rewards loyalty program.

we’re honored to carry on that legacy”

Commenting on the approval, EBCI Holdings CEO R. Scott Barber said the company is “delighted to move forward with Caesars.” He also noted the strength of the Caesars brand among the southern Indiana community, saying: “We’re honored to carry on that legacy as we continue to elevate Caesars’s world-class guest experience.”

The operators expect the deal to close within this quarter.

A necessary transaction

When Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment agreed to a $17.3bn merger in 2020, the Indiana Gaming Commission gave its approval on certain terms. It included a condition which required the combined entity to sell three of its casinos in the state. This made it necessary for Caesars to agree to the EBCI deal before the end of 2020.

If Caesars did not sell any of its properties in Indiana, the newly merged company would have owned five of the 13 commercial casinos in the state. In total, these properties contribute 50-60% of total casino tax revenue in Indiana each year.

Notably, the EBCI is only acquiring the operating rights for Caesars Southern Indiana, rather than the property itself. Once the transaction closes, EBCI will rent the venue from VICI Properties for $32.5m per year. The lease will have an initial term of 15 years with four five-year tenant renewal options.

Despite passing the property on to EBCI, Caesars has reassured the 900 staff members currently employed by the casino that they will have the option to retain their positions.

Other Caesars casino sales

In accordance with the conditions set out by the Indiana Gaming Commission, Caesars has also sold its Tropicana Casino in Evansville. The deal, finalized in June of this year, saw Bally’s Corporation pay $140m for the property’s operations, while Gaming & Leisure Properties bought the land for $340m. The transaction gave Bally’s the rights to sports betting and online gaming skins for the Indiana casino.

the regulator rescinded its sale order

Until recently, Caesars also faced the sale of its Horseshoe Hammond casino near Chicago. The operator has consistently maintained that it is the most suitable candidate to operate the casino, however, an argument that eventually won over the Indiana Gaming Commission. In June, the regulator rescinded its sale order, allowing Caesars to maintain control of the casino.

Caesars also sold some properties outside of Indiana last year. The operator pocketed $16.5m in the sale of Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino, Racing & Entertainment in September 2020. Rubico Acquisition Corp took over the racino, paying an additional $5.5m to VICI in the transaction. In the same state just months later, Caesars agreed to sell Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport to Bally’s for $140m.

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