aesars Entertainment is torn about its plans to build a new casino in southern Indiana, before the prospects of having to pay a $50 million fee in the state for acquiring two horse track casinos near Indianapolis. In November, the operator announced it would pay $1.7 billion to buy Centaur Gaming, which owns Hoosier Park, a casino and racetrack in Anderson, and the Indiana Grand casino and racetrack in Shelbyville.
Caesars also told the Indiana Gaming Commission that it's reconsidering a $90 million project for building an on-land casino to replace the riverboat at its Horseshoe Southern Indiana casino near Louisville, Kentucky.
Indiana law prohibits one company from owning more than two casinos in Indiana. But that rule doesn't apply to racetrack-based casinos, which are authorized under a different law.
Gaining the two horse-track casinos would give Caesars control over four of the state's five top casinos when measured by gambling revenue.
The Horseshoe Southern project was expected to be introduced at the commission's March 8 meeting. Caesars officials said they'd anticipated the $50 million fee issue would have been resolved prior to that meeting.
"Caesars is now facing some very difficult decisions with regard to its proposed $90 million investment in southern Indiana," Timothy Donovan, executive vice president, general counsel and chief regulatory and compliance officer for Caesars, wrote in an email to Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Gonso Tait on March 2.
"We would prefer not pulling it from next week's agenda, but at this point we may have no choice given the continued uncertainty surrounding the $50 million transfer fee," Donovan wrote.
The gaming commission could discuss the fee issue in May or June, when it is expected to review the Caesars-Centaur deal.