In one of the biggest mergers in the casino industry, El Dorado Resorts out of Reno, Nevada acquired Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment through a $17.3 billion stock purchase. This deal was in the making for more than a year and it finally closed in July.
A major part of the process was gaining approval from regulatory gaming boards in multiple states where Caesars owned and operated existing casino properties. Regulators voiced their concerns over a possible competitive monopoly.
Indiana regulators eventually approved the merger with the stipulation that the new Caesars sell off three casinos. At the time, it operated five casinos in this state.
Waiting in the wings was Twin River Worldwide Holdings as another casino company looking to expand. A deal to buy Bally’s in Atlantic City from Caesars is currently in the works. It was announced earlier this week that Twin River has reached a deal to buy Tropicana Evansville.
The terms of this $480 million deal also involve Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI). The actual casino real estate will be sold to GLPI for $340 million. Twin River will buy the casino operations for $140 million. GLPI has already agreed to lease the property to Twin River for $28 million a year.
If everything gains regulatory approval, the deal should close by the second quarter of 2021. In a separate deal between these two parties, Twin River will sell its Dover Downs’ casino property to GLPI for $144 million. GLPI, as the buyer, will lease it back to Twin Rivers for $12 million a year.
The new Caesars Entertainment still needs to sell two more casinos in Indiana by the end of this year. At the time, Eldorado Resorts sought an 18-month window to comply. Indiana regulators have so far held firm on the Dec. 31 date. Although, they did leave the door open for an extension.
The two other Indiana casinos still on the block are Horseshoe Hammond and Caesars Southern Indiana. Company officials had previously indicated that they were interested in keeping Harrah’s Hoosier Park and the Indiana Grand as part of the Caesars brand. Both of these properties are racinos in close proximity to Indianapolis.
Twin River views Tropicana Evansville as a good fit with its overall corporate footprint. Part of the deal includes Tropicana’s retail sports betting along with iGaming skins for online betting sites.
The Indiana Gaming Commission recently approved William Hill as an online sportsbook in the state. This company is already running the retail book at Tropicana Evansville.
Online casinos in Indiana could also sweeten the deal. While it is currently illegal in the state, lawmakers are expected to take up that issue as part of next year’s legislative session.
Twin River President and CEO George Papanier released the following company statement:
“This transaction is consistent with our core strategy of acquiring strategic gaming assets at attractive valuations and, importantly, represent the Company’s entry into a 10th state. It also provides us with access to an attractive Indiana gaming market, in which we will look to significantly advance our mobile and online sports betting and iGaming initiatives.”