ldorado Resorts Inc. received the go-ahead Wednesday from Nevada casino regulators to buy Caesars Entertainment Corp. in a $17.3 billion deal creating a gambling giant owning or operating 55 properties in 16 U.S. states and several other countries.
“There’s only one Caesars Palace. There’s only one Caesars Entertainment, a brand that’s known worldwide,” said Gary Carano, Eldorado Resorts board chairman and member of a northern Nevada family that parlayed ownership of a small hotel-casino in Reno in 1973 into the massive buyout.
The merger won unanimous endorsement after pointed questions from Nevada Gaming Control Board regulators and unanimous approval from the state Gaming Commission. The Federal Trade Commission accepted the plan June 26 after Eldorado agreed to sell properties in Kansas City, Missouri, South Lake Tahoe, California, and Louisiana.
“This deal, I believe, works,” Gaming Commissioner Steven Cohen said before his vote. “To get this deal done, in this economic climate, in this climate of COVID-19. Good for you. Good for the state. Good for gaming in the United States.”
Approval in coming days from regulators in Indiana and New Jersey would create the world’s largest casino operation, eclipsing MGM Resorts International, and make Eldorado one of the largest employers in Nevada. The company plans to continue operations and stock trades under the name Caesars Entertainment Inc.
“You should expect us to focus on domestic gaming,” Eldorado chief executive Thomas Reeg said at the start of more than three hours of testimony by various Eldorado executives. Other Caesars brands include Bally's, Harrah's and Horseshoe. Las Vegas Strip properties include Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Flamingo and Linq.
“We think what we’re good at is taking existing properties, optimizing their operations, building a responsible capital structure and driving value for all of our stakeholders,” Reeg said.
Caesars emerged from bankruptcy protection in late 2017, and turned an Eldorado offer away in 2018. The merger got a boost from billionaire financier Carl Icahn, who acquired a big block of Caesars shares, pushed for company changes and backed hiring Rodio from Icahn's Tropicana Entertainment, which was sold to Eldorado in 2018.