EBCI Holdings Completes $250 Million Purchase of Caesars Southern Indiana

Caesars Southern Indiana Casino Image

The Easter Band of Cherokee Indians Tribe finalized its $250 million purchase of the Caesars Southern Indiana casino on Friday.

The deal closed after the Indiana Gaming Commission gave its approval on th sale of the casino across the Ohio River in the Hoosier State.

Said R. Scott Barber, chairman of EBCI Holdings Inc:

“We knew that Caesars Southern Indiana has a special legacy of excellence which initially drew us to the casino. As we’ve discovered, Caesars Southern Indiana also employs an excellent workforce and has made meaningful investments in the community over the last two decades. We look forward to building on that success.”

Caesars Southern Indiana to Retain Branding and Rewards Program

Based on the agreement signed in the 2020 purchase, the Caesars Southern Indiana casino will keep its Caesar branding rights and the brand’s loyalty program Caesars Rewards.

EBCI Holdings also announced that they will retain the Caesar Southern Indiana’s roughly 900 management and staff in their current positions.

Previously known as the Horseshoe Indiana Casino, which was a boat on the Ohio River that opened in 1998, the property became Caesars Southern Indiana- a $90M, 100,000 square foot land based Casino in 2019. But after Caesars Entertainment’s $17.3B sale to Eldorado Resorts, Caesars was mandated to sell several of its properties, including the Caesars Southern Indiana.

Triple-Net Lease Agreement with VICI Properties, Inc.

Simultaneous with the closing of the deal, EBCI Holdings also signed a triple-net lease with a subsidiary of VICI Properties Inc. in connection with the real property associated with Caesars Southern Indiana. The lease has a total annual rent of $32.5M and an initial term of 15 years with four five-year tenant renewal options.

Rent under the lease will increase annual by 1.5% beginning in lease year 2 through lease year 5 and the greater of 2.0% or the Consumer Price index beginning lease year 6.

EBCI Holding was created early this year to diversify the holdings of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the commercial gaming and hospitality business. The Cherokees operate two casinos in Western North Carolina, both of which are managed by Caesars Entertainment. The Southern Indiana casino is their first casino property outside the state.

Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana Partners With ESPN 1000 For White Sox Radio

MLB White Sox Tim Anderson With Sportsbook Background

The Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana has partnered with The Chicago White Sox and Good Karma Brands for its radio broadcasts.

Beginning September, Hard Rock Northern Indiana will become the naming rights sponsor of the White Sox Radio Network.

Said Mike Thomas, Market Manager of ESPN 1000 in a statement:

“Partnering with the Chicago White Sox late last year was monumental for ESPN Chicago! Now, to partner with Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana to present the naming rights of the White Sox Network to White Sox fans throughout Illinois, Indiana and Iowa is remarkable. I want to thank Matt Schuffert and Joe Branchik and the Hard Rock team! I can’t wait to hear Len Kasper say: ‘The ESPN 1000 Hard Rock Casino White Sox Network’ each game for years to come.”

Multi-year Agreement

The multi-year agreement will run through the 2023 MLB season and Hard Rock Casino will be part of the White Sox broadcast from Spring Training all the way to the postseason. The gambling company will also receive daily exposure during ESPN 1000 national and local broadcasts.

Under the new deal, fans will be able to listen to the ESPN 1000 Hard Rock Casino White Sox Network via ESPN 1000, 103.HD2, and the ESPN Chicago App.

ESPN 1000 was previously the exclusive radio partner of the Chicago White Sox from 1999 to 2005.

White Sox Have Bounced Around on Radio

After the White Sox’s radio contract with WSCR expired in 2015, the team has bounced around on radio. WLS-890 was supposed to be the flagship station of the White Sox from 2016 through 2021 but Cumulus Media, the owner of WLS, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2017, forcing the White Sox to move to WGN.

Last November, the Chicago White Sox organization and ESPN 1000 entered into an agreement that made the latter the White Sox’s 4th radio home since 2015.

The deal commenced with the White Sox’s first game of the Cactus League last February 27th and it includes all regular season, playoff, and spring training games of the franchise.

Guitar-Smashing Event Marks Opening of Hard Rock Northern Indiana Casino

Hard Rock Atlantic City
Two decades after first proposed land-based casino in Gary, The Hard Rock Northern Indiana Casino opened its doors to the public last Friday.

In an event only Hard Rock could pull off, the Indiana casino’s opening was marked by more more than two dozen casino officials, local dignitaries, and popular musicians smashing logo-emblazoned guitars in front of sparkler fireworks, backed up by the sound of Fall out Boy’s “Light ‘Em Up”.

But more than the star-studded, guitar-smashing, rock and roll event that took place, the opening was regarded as the start of a promising future for Steel City.

A $300M Gambling and Entertainment Destination

The $300M gambling and entertainment destination replaces the former Majestic Star Casinos that operated from Lake Michigan from Gary’s Buffington Harbor for the past quarter of a century. It is the first land-based commercial Indiana casino built away from its dockside location.

The Hard Rock in Gary includes a casino that has 1,600 slot machines and 80 table games, five restaurants including a Hard Rock Cafe, a 1,954-seat Hard Rock Live performance venue, a gift shop, and an on-site sportsbook. The casino is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Guests, including those at its restaurants, must be at least 21 years old to enter.

Building Local Partnerships

Sen. Eddie Melton, a proponent of the 20119 Indiana law authorizing the relocation of the Gary Casino, said that the opening of the Hard Rock Northern Indiana Casino opens the door for economic growth and endless opportunities. Melton talked about Gary going from one of the state’s lowest income-generating casinos at Buffington Harbor to a location with over 200,000 cars a day passing by.

The Hard Rock Casino in Gary employs around 1,200 locals across the property and has pledged to prioritize Gary and Northern Indiana companies in its spending just as it did during its construction phase. Hard Rock says it will continue to build local partnerships and help local vendors provide products and services to the Indiana casino.

Hard Rock Casino in Gary, Indiana to Open on May 14th

Hard Rock Atlantic City
Hard Rock International’s new land-based casino in Gary will open its doors to the public on May 14th. The announcement was made during Tuesday’s state Gaming Commission meeting.

Said Hard Rock International Chief Operating Officer John Lucas:

“We are extremely excited about the future in Indiana and working with the state, and the commission, and the local communities that we’ll be in. We anticipate a great partnership with Spectacle Entertainment, certainly [Spectacle Vice Chairman] Greg Gibson and I have worked very closely over the last year to move this thing forward. As Greg said, there’s certainly been a few speed bumps along the way, but we believe they’re behind us now.”

Few Speed Bumps

The most notable of the “speed bumps” Lucas was referring to was the filing of a case by the Indiana Gaming Commission against former chief executive officer and Spectacle Entertainment chair Rod Ratcliff for several acts of wrongdoings.

Among others, the IGC alleged that Ratcliff was part of a scheme to funnel corporate campaign funds to a congressional candidate in Indiana. Ratcliff was also accused of taking company money to fund his personal horse race betting account without reporting it, thus obstructing justice.

Ratcliff’s legal issues threatened to postpone the opening of the Hard Rock Gary casino because Hard Rock International and Spectacle Entertainment are partners in the project and in an upcoming casino known as Lucy Luck in Terre Haute. But after Ratcliff sold his Spectacle shares to Hard Rock and relinquished his gambling license, the IGC has given the project the green light to continue.

Important Projects for the City of Gary

IGC executive director Sarah Tait said that the conversion of the Gary casino from boat to land is an important project to the City of Gary and its people. Spectacle Entertainment vice chairman Greg Gibson said that the Gary casino project and the upcoming one in Terre Haute are worth half a billion dollars.

According to Gary mayor Jerome Prince, the construction of the Gary casino generated $52M in construction contracts awarded to Lake County companies, including $32M which went to contractors from Gary. Likewise, the construction of the casino has generated an extra 400 to 600 jobs in the city.

The Hard Rock in Indiana will be joining an already competitive casino market beyond the Illinois border within an hour’s drive from Chicago. It joins the Ameristar Casino in Eastern Chicago and and Horseshoe Hammond as entertainment and gaming options in the area.

Indiana Grand Set to Undergo $32M Expansion

Indiana Grand Casino Logo With Property Images
Caesars Entertainment announced plans to expand Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville. The $32M project is set to begin in two weeks and is expected to be completed before the end of the year with Indianapolis-based Wilhelm Construction contracted to work on the project.

The expansion will add 25,000 square feet to the racino’s gaming floor, which in turn will allow an additional 100 slot machines and 25 table games. It is also expected to create 100 new jobs for the Indiana casino industry.

Per Mike Rich, senior vice president and general manager of Indiana Grand:

“Since the implementation of table games in early 2020, we have looked forward to expanding our gaming operations, This growth will allow us to accommodate more guests and add more talented team members to the Indiana Grand family.”

World Class Poker Room

Part of the expansion is the creation of a 5,000 square foot World Series of Poker-themed poker room with 20 tables. However, the connection of its poker room to the poker series is more than just branding. It will allow players to actually qualify for World Series of Poker tournaments.

Likewise, Caesars also said that new hospitality, entertainment, and restaurants in the Indiana casino will be announced in the coming months as these are still subject to the approval of the city of Shelbyville and the Indiana Gaming Commission.

One of Indiana’s Most Lucrative Casinos

The Indiana Grand is one of the largest and most lucrative Indiana casinos. According to data from the Indiana Gaming Commission, the racino currently operates with a total of 1,084 slot machines and 61 tables games. Once the planned expansion is complete, only Horseshoe Hammond will have more table games among Indiana casinos.

With racinos finally allowed to offer live table games in 2020, the Indiana Grand generated more than $30M in tax revenues for the Hoosier State. That contribution ranked only second to Horseshoe Hammond’s $49.7M remittance, per information from the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Commitment to Indiana

According to Caesars President and COO Anthony Carano, the company’s investment in the Indiana Grand is a “testament to Caesars Entertainment’s commitment to Indiana.” When the Eldorado merger was consummated last year, Caesars was stipulated to keep only two properties in the state. The company retained Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park in Anderson, both racinos and located within a half-hour drive from Indianapolis.

Caesars reached a deal to sell Tropicana Evansville to Bally’s Entertainment last fall and last December, it announced an agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for the sale of Caesars Southern Indiana in Elizabeth. Caesars now needs to find a buyer for Horseshoe Hammond.

BetMGM Offers Special Sports Bets at Buffalo Wild Wings

Closeup of Man Making Sports Bets on His Phone

BetMGM is offering a unique sports betting experience to customers who are physically present inside a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in select U.S. states. Using geolocation technology, sports fans can access custom promotions and bets when inside a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Colorado, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Said BetMGM Chief Revenue Officer Matt Prevost:

“Our partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings is incredibly innovative and allows BetMGM to redefine how fans enjoy sports. The introduction of geolocation technology to offer bettors a customized experience in a Buffalo Wild Wings location is a great example of what we’re able to activate through this groundbreaking relationship.”

In-Bar Channel

At the same time, Buffalo Wild Wings also announced the launch of an in-bar channel dubbed as OT Odds Powered by BetMGM. The network will air on selected screens in participating sports bars nationwide. The channel will deliver sports betting contents such as live game odds, fantasy sports, and sports betting advice programs. 

In states where mobile sports betting is legal, a new and exclusive feature called Blazin’ Bets is now offered within the BetMGM app. This new promo has curated boosts, bets, and parlays available through a customer’s personal device. 

Picks and Props Upgrade

Buffalo Wild Wings’ free-to-play game Picks and Props, which is available via the company’s mobile app,  also received an upgrade in its design. The new features include a parlay-style gameplay with new BetMGM elements. BetMGM odds can be used to make picks from any state where free-to-play games are legal. Major Prizes are awarded monthly while select winners will be inducted to the newly created BWW Hall of Fame.

BetMGM and Buffalo Wild Wings entered into a strategic partnership in 2019. The agreement was the first of its kind between a gaming provider and a national sports bar. Since its launch,  there have been over 500,000 users who have played BWW and BetMGM free-to-play games.

 

Eastern Bank of Cherokee Indians To Purchase Caesars Southern Indiana For $280M

Caesars Southern Indiana Casino Image
Caesars Entertainment has entered into an agreement to divest Caesars Southern Indiana to The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for $280M. In an announcement, the Las Vegas-based gambling company said that it is extending the Caesars brand to one of its long-time partners.

Said Caesars Entertainment Inc. CEO Tom Reeg:

“Expanding our relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is an exciting event for Caesars Entertainment. Since our partnership began back in 1996, we have admired their growth and the success of their properties.”

The Caesars Southern Indiana opened in 1998 as the Horseshoe Southern Indiana, a riverboat casino on the Ohio River. It became a $90M 100,000 square foot land-based casino in 2019 under Caesars. But after the latter’s $17.3B merger with Eldorado, Caesars was ordered to sell the Indiana casino by December 31st.

Extending Their Long-Standing Relationship

The sale of the Indiana casino is expected to close in the third business quarter of 2021. After the closing of the transaction, Caesars and EBCI will extend their long-standing relationship by entering into a long-term agreement for the continued use of the Caesars brand and Caesars Rewards Loyalty Program at Caesars Southern Indiana.

In addition, the EBCI will enter into a new lease agreement with a year one rental of $32.5M with VICI who maintains the ownership of the real estate. As a result of this transaction, Caesars’ annual payments to VICI Properties under the regional master lease will be decreased by $32.5M.

A Sovereign Nation

J.P. Morgan and Watkins LLP will represent Caesars Entertainment in the sale of the Indiana casino. Meanwhile, Innovation Capital LLC and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck will represent the Eastern Band of Cherokee indians. The transaction is still subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a sovereign nation. As such, it has its own laws, elections, government, institutions, and the likes. The own and operate two casinos in North Carolina. The tribe operates two casinos in North Carolina.

Penn National Gaming to Open Three Barstool Sportsbooks This Week

Penn National Gaming
Three Barstool-branded sportsbooks will be opened by the end of the week in three regional casinos owned by Penn National Gaming.

According to the Pennsylvania-based casino operator, Barstool sportsbooks will open on December 23 at the Greektown Casino Hotel in Detroit, Michigan and at the Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg in Indiana. Meanwhile, another Barstool sportsbook will be launched at the Ameristar East Chicago Casino & Hotel on Christmas Eve.

The Barstool sportsbook at Greektown is located at the second floor adjacent to the table gaming area. Meanwhile, Penn National rebranded the the existing sportsbooks situated in the entrance to the casino floor of Hollywood Lawrenceburg and by the entrance of Ameristar East.

Per Penn National SVP of Regional Operations Rafael Verde:

“The new designs incorporate the spirit of the Barstool Sports brand, resulting in unique sports wagering and dining experiences that we expect our customers will thoroughly enjoy.”

Part of the Rollout

The opening of the three sports betting shops is part of the rollout discussed by Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden during the company’s third-quarter conference call last October. It can be recalled that Penn National Gaming kicked off the launch last month at the Ameristar Black Hawk in Colorado.

All three new locations feature a sports viewing area and dining space. It also has a betting counter with a large odds board, numerous betting kiosks, and ticker writing stations. The wagering area is close to the dining area and has several television sets showing different sports action from across the country.

Increasing its Reach

Penn National Gaming hopes to change and increase the reach of the demographic make-up of its customer base which is currently made up of the 45 and older age group. Last January, Penn National acquired a 36% stake of the sports media platform Barstool for $136M.

With the acquisition, Penn National hopes to take advantage of the estimated 66 million viewers of its website and social media content to improve its market standing. Currently, Penn National operates 41 gaming locations in a total of 19 states. That number will soon increase to 42 and 20, respectively, as it announced last week the purchase of the Hollywood Casino Perryville in Maryland.

IGC Investigation Could Endanger Indiana Casino Projects

Casino Roulette Table
Indiana casino projects in Terry Haute and Gary could be in peril as authorities conduct an investigation on illegal political contributions involving a casino executive. That probe has expanded to 10 people who may have committed financial misconduct that would violate state casino regulations or laws.

Spectacle Entertainment, the owners of the Gary Casino located along Lake Michigan, are currently working on a replacement $300M inland Casino in Gary and a $125M casino in Terry Haute. But the company is currently under fire due to allegations that its executives funneled company money to the unsuccessful 2016 campaign of a former lawmaker.

Unsuccessful Congressional Bid

The subject lawmaker is Brent Waltz, a former state senator who ran for a congressional seat but was unsuccessful. Waltz was charged with one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions, false statements, and to obstruct justice, one count of making and receiving conduit contributions, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making false statements.

Former Spectacle Entertainment vice president John Keeler saw his casino license suspended last September after an indictment charged him one count of conspiracy to make illegal corporate contributions, false statements, and to obstruct justice, one count of making illegal corporate contributions, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making false statements.

Keeler and fellow Spectacle executive Rod Ratcliff were forced by authorities to give up their ownership in the Terry Haute casino although they allowed one business partner to proceed with the project. The two pushed lawmakers last year to allow Gary’s Casino to move from Lake Michigan to a more strategic location along interstate 80/94 in Gary and permit Terry Haute to become the first new Indiana casino since 2008.

Long Active Lobbyists

Ratcliff was not named in the federal indictment and isn’t facing any criminal charges. He however, resigned as Spectacle’s Chairman and CEO last June but was allowed to keep his share in the company.

Keeler, who was a Republican legislator for 16 years during the 80s and 90s, and Ratcliff have long been active lobbyists in the Indiana legislature on casino matters and were the owners of the two central Indiana horse track casinos until the time they were sold to Caesars Entertainment in 2018.

The Terry Haute Casino is being spearheaded by a company called Spectacle Jack. The firm is led by Greg Gibson, a businessman from Terry Haute who is also the vice-chairman of Spectacle Entertainment. In a statement released last Tuesday, Spectacle Entertainment said that Gibson wasn’t a subject of the investigation but is cooperating with state officials.

Caesars Gets One Year Reprieve For Horseshoe Casino Sale

Casino Roulette Table
The Indiana Gaming Commission has granted Caesars Entertainment more time to sell the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana.

On Monday, the IGC unanimously agreed to give Caesars a one-year reprieve to sell the Indiana casino. The commissioners sided with IGC executive director Sarah Tait who opined that selling the Horseshoe Casino right now “presents unique challenges” that include the uncertainty over the gaming expansion in illinois and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gaming industry in general.

She mentioned the lease agreement on the property as one of the reasons. The rapid expansion of the Illinois gaming market on the Chicago area of the region. Likewise, Trait mentioned the pandemic causing uncertainty in the gaming market.

Per Tait:

“Granting relief regarding divestiture timing is in the best interest of the state and local community, and will not negatively impact operations at the property.”

Complying With IGC’s Stipulations

The Horseshoe Casino is one of three Indiana casinos that the gaming giant must sell to comply with the IGC’s stipulations for El Dorado’s $17.3B acquisition of Caesars. The sales was directed to prevent an “undue economic concentration of the state’s gaming industry following the merger.

Last month, Caesars announced the sale of Tropicana Evansville to Twin River Worldwide Holdings for $480M. Earlier this month, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians signed a letter of intent that gives the North Carolina tribal nation a 45-day period to buy Caesars Southern Indiana.

Caesars is retaining Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand. The two racinos are the only properties that are situated less than an hour away from Indianapolis. Aside from that, state legislature has allowed the two tracks to offer table games this year. Caesars is planning to infuse a combined $60M to add more table games to both spots

Biggest Casino in the State

The Horseshoe Casino is the biggest Indiana casino. Located less than a mile from Chicago and the state line of Illinois, it has 2,135 electronic games and 1,105 table positions which are the most by any Indiana casino.

Per the Gaming Commission’s annual report, the Horseshoe Casino generated a revenue of $309.3M during the fiscal year. That amount is $85M more than the income of the second-largest Indiana casino. It also generated $99.8M in taxes which was nearly double the $51.1M paid by the Indiana Grand.

Horseshoe’s $24.9M in local development agreement funding outpaced the next closest Indiana casinos combined. Hotel Lawrenceburg, Tropicana, and Ameristar East Chicago which have a total of $23.1M.