The Eldorado Resorts/Caesars Entertainment deal (it’s also a merger and an acquisition, depending on who you talk to) is moving forward, despite the fact that the coronavirus has the gaming world in a headlock. The process was never going to be easy – regulators in each state where the two companies have operations have to agree to the arrangement before the final checks are signed and delivered. Most of these regulatory approvals have already been secured as the companies diligently make their rounds, but a few more are needed – that of Nevada regulators being one. However, the former chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) doesn’t foresee any issues.
Before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can sign off on the acquisition/merger, gaming regulators in three more states have to give their approval. Nevada, New Jersey and Indiana are the last on the list, but COVID-19 has forced them to shift priorities, and holding meetings to discuss issues like the $17.3-billion dollar are not at the top of the list. Eventually, the regulators will have to get together, though, and make a determination.
Becky Harris was the first female chair of the NGCB and now spends her days as a sports betting fellow at the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She recently participated in a conference led by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, an investment and financial advisory firm, where she offered her view of what to expect out of the NGCB. Per a memo sent to SunTrust clients by company analyst Barry Jonas, “[While] the current (Nevada Gaming Commission) Chairman Tony Alamo recently announced his decision to step down … Harris noted the deal could be approved without an acting chair – important, given prior appointments have sometimes seen lengthy processes.”
It would be difficult for Harris, or anyone, to know exactly when the final approvals could be received – the longer the coronavirus maintains its grip, the longer the current lockdown will remain in place. However, Jonas offered a forecast, predicting that the deal could be completely consummated sometime in June. There is little doubt that regulators in Nevada and New Jersey will support the marriage, with only Indiana now being seen as a possible stumbling block.
The Hoosier State’s gaming regulator, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, has already indicated that it isn’t overly confident about the merger because, as it sees things, Eldorado doesn’t have enough horseracing experience. This is important to the commission because Caesars currently has two tracks, Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand, in the state. However, Eldorado isn’t a total stranger to the sector, as it has previously operated two properties in Pennsylvania that included horseracing as part of their options.