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Indiana commission approves Eldorado

July 13, 2020

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On Monday, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission unanimously approved—with conditions--the sale of Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand to Eldorado Resorts. The meeting was held at Indiana Grand, with speakers and commissions practicing social distancing and wearing masks, and the meeting was also streamed on the internet.

The commission’s vote came following the Indiana Gaming Commission approval of the $17.3 billion merger of Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment Corp.—also with conditions—on Friday. Eldorado shareholders and the Federal Trade Commission had already approved the merger.

At the Gaming Commission board meeting, Eldorado officials agreed that the combined company, which would operate as Caesars Entertainment Inc., would divest three Indiana properties to address concerns about the company's market concentration. In addition to acquiring the Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand racino/racing operations, the merger deal combines Horseshoe Hammond Casino in Hammond, Caesars Southern Indiana Casino in Elizabeth and Eldorado's existing property, Tropicana Evansville, under the same umbrella.

The Gaming Commission said it projected that the merger as originally proposed would result in Caesars Entertainment Inc. controlling between 50-60 percent of gaming revenues in Indiana. By divesting at least two of those properties it would fall to at or below 40 percent.

At the Horse Racing Commission’s meeting Monday, Eldorado CEO Anthony Carano and Vice President of Racing Joe Morris testified about Eldorado’s plans for operating the state’s two racetracks. Eldorado was criticized at the meeting about its efforts to “decouple” gaming and harness racing in Florida so it could end racing at Pompano Park. A commission member specifically asked Carano to pledge the company would not pursue decoupling in Indiana, and Carano did just that.

“We made mistakes when we first got into racing,” said Carano.

Carano said that Eldorado has plans for $25 million in investments in its racing operations over the next 10 years, plus an additional $60 million in overall expansion for table games and operations at Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand. Upgrades at both tracks will include additional stalls and dormitories.

Morris noted that Eldorado will increase the Hoosier Park marketing budget for the track's hosting of this fall's Breeders Crown and also hopes to be part of a three-track rotation of the Crown events in the future.

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