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Caesars to divest southern Indiana property to tribal operator


Caesars Entertainment has agreed to sell the operations of its Caesars Southern Indiana casino to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, as well as completing the sale of its Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport to Bally’s Corporation. 

The sale of the Caesars Southern Indiana operations will see the tribe pay the operator $250m, subject to customary price adjustments. Vici Properties, the real estate investment trust spun off from Caesars in 2017, will also sign a new lease with the tribe for annual rent payments of $32.5m.

The deal sees Caesars continue a relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians that dates back to 1996, when they partnered to open Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina. A second property, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River, followed in 2015. 

Once the transaction closes – which is expected in the third quarter of 2021 – the pair will enter into a long-term agreement for the tribe to use the Caesars brand and Caesars Rewards loyalty program at the property. 

“Expanding our relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is an exciting event for Caesars Entertainment,” Caesars Entertainment chief executive Tom Reeg commented. “Since our partnership began back in 1996, we have admired their growth and the success of their properties.

“We look forward to increasing our relationship by extending the Caesars brand and Caesars Rewards loyalty program to them at Caesars Southern Indiana.”

Richard Sneed, principal chief fo the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, said the deal marketed a the beginning of an “exciting new future” for the tribe. 

“We are pleased to build upon our long-standing partnership with Caesars as we look to advance our interests in commercial gaming in the coming years.”

It follows the Indiana Gaming Commission ordering Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts to sell a trio of properties in the state as a key condition for approving the companies’ mega-merger. That deal was finalized in July 2020.

As well as Caesars Southern Indiana, the operator also operates Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Horseshoe Hammond and the Indiana Grand. A fifth venue, Tropicana Evansville, is to be sold to Bally’s Corporation.

Bally’s, which was snapped up a number of venues being divested by the enlarged Caesars business, has also completed its $140m acquisition of the Eldorado Shreveport Resort and Casino in Louisiana. 

That deal was first announced in April 2020, alongside the acquisition of Bally’s Atlantic City and the Mont Bleu Casino Resort & Spa in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

“The completion of the sale of Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport satisfies the Federal Trade Commission request to divest the asset in connection with the Caesars-Eldorado transaction which closed earlier this year,” Reeg explained. 

“Since our acquisition of the property fifteen years ago, our team members’ passion and commitment have driven our success in Shreveport.  We wish all of them continued success under Bally’s ownership.”

In related news, Caesars has moved a step closer to closing its acquisition of William Hill, after announcing an early end to the waiting period mandated by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. 

The combination has already been approved by the Mississippi Gaming Commission and the West Virginia Lottery in November and December respectively. It still must secure approval from state regulators in Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as final approval from the English High Court. 

The deal has already been approved by William Hill shareholders, in November 2020.