Caesars Entertainment has completed the protracted sale of the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs racetrack and casino just hours after it became the first commercial casino to accept legal bets in the state.
Caesars and Vici Properties, a real estate investment trust spun off from Caesars in 2017, will receive a combined $22.0m from new owners Rubico Acquisition Corporation following the completion of the sale of Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino, Racing & Entertainment.
The proceeds of the transaction – agreed more than a year ago – were split $5.5m to Vici and $16.5m to Caesars subject to customary adjustments for cash and net working capital. The annual base rent payments under the regional master lease between Caesars and VICI will remain unchanged.
Rubico will operate the racetrack and the 12,000-square-foot casino in Bossier City and is in the process of applying for a sports betting license. The state has a 1 January 2022 deadline for applications.
Under the agreement, Caesar Entertainment employees working at Louisiana Downs will transfer to the new ownership.
“A new era for Louisiana Downs begins today,” said Kevin Preston, president of Rubico. “Our team will begin restoring this iconic facility to its former glory. We know it has a lot of untapped potential and we are ready to make this a family-oriented destination once again.
“We are excited to welcome new members to our team. They are our brand ambassadors, greeting and serving our guests with exceptional service. Their experience at Louisiana Downs is immeasurable and will help elevate it to a new level of fun and service for our guests.”
In announcing the sale in September 2020, Caesars said it expected the acquisition to close at the end of 2020 or early 2021. However, the deal was only approved by Louisiana’s Racing Commission at the end of October 2020.
The transfer will not affect Louisiana Downs’ horseracing schedule, which begins on 10 January 2022 with Quarter Horse racing.
Two Caesars properties in Louisiana—Harrah’s New Orleans and Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel & Casino—accepted their first in-person sports bets on 31 October, making them the first commercial casinos in the state to do so.
The launch follows Betfred launching sports betting last month at the Paragon Casino Resort, which was permitted to launch earlier as it is owned by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe.
Sports betting was legalized within Louisiana following a parish-by-parish referendum that took place in 2020. The market launch was delayed until 2021, however, due to Louisiana only permitting the passing of a new tax in an odd-numbered year, meaning the state had to wait to pass laws taxing the vertical.
These laws were eventually signed into law in June, setting the launch in motion.
Sports betting is only permitted in parishes that approved the vertical in the referendum.
Image: Caesars Entertainment