Caesars-Eldorado Merger Official After New Jersey Approves

Caesars-Eldorado Merger Official After New Jersey Approves
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The merger of two casino industry giants is finally final.

New Jersey, the last state to approve a long-awaited deal between Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts, gave that approval Friday after a marathon three-day session of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

The combined Eldorado-Caesars entity, which will own more than 50 U.S. casinos, will operate under the Caesars Entertainment brand even though Eldorado will hold 56% of the company. It will be the largest casino company in the country.

There were concerns in New Jersey about the merger’s implications for Atlantic City casinos, according to a story in The Press of Atlantic City. But the Casino Control Commission voted 2-0 on Friday to approve the deal, whereby the combined Caesars-Eldorado entity will own four of the city’s nine casinos.

New Jersey was an appropriate setting for the final stage of one of the industry’s biggest corporate stories of 2020 – eight of the state’s nine casinos (all in Atlantic City) have reopened after coronavirus-related closures, the ninth will do so next week. New Jersey online sportsbooks are even doing decent business with major U.S. sports leagues still yet to restart.

RELATED: See which New Jersey casinos are open

The deal affects four of the nine casino properties in Atlantic City, the nation’s second-largest gaming market behind the Las Vegas Strip.

“Atlantic City is going to be a significant piece of this combined company,” Eldorado CEO Thomas Reeg said during testimony on Wednesday, according to an Associated Press story. Reeg and several other Eldorado executives appeared Wednesday before the commission.

"It bears to reason that there was significant concern regarding the financial stability, given the magnitude of the impact on the two companies and given unanticipated costs," Commissioner Alisa Cooper said, according to The Press of Atlantic City story. The same story said that Eldorado agreed to apply 5% of annual net revenue toward reinvesting in the two companies’ existing Atlantic City facilities, which include Harrah's and Tropicana as well as the Caesars Atlantic City casino. Caesars had already agreed recently to sell its Atlantic City Bally’s casino to Twin River.

Regulators in Nevada gave their approval for the Eldorado-Caesars agreement on July 8. The Indiana Gaming Commission also gave its OK on July 10 and the Indiana Horse Racing Commission followed suit on July 13, with the state requiring the combined Caesars-Eldorado entity to sell three of its five casinos in the state. Other states needing to approve the deal did so earlier this year.

That left only New Jersey. A robust list of online gaming options as well as Atlantic City’s famed brick-and-mortar casinos make the Garden State a powerful player in the American gambling industry.

New Jersey is one of just four states to offer online poker and one of just two to have online slot sites (the other being Pennsylvania).

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