US casino giant Caesars Entertainment, Inc. is looking to keep Horseshoe Hammond Casino and the state Gaming Commission appears to be poised to discuss the matter, according to recent reports from local news outlets.
As part of its approval of Caesars’ $17.3 billion takeover of Eldorado Resorts, the regulator ordered the casino operator in July 2020 to sell three of the five properties the combined group would own after the deal’s closure and do that by the end of 2020.
Caesars agreed to offload Horseshoe Hammond, along with Caesars Southern Indiana in Elizabeth and Tropicana Casino in Evansville. The company decided to keep its two suburban Indianapolis horse racetrack and casino complexes – Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Gaming Commission gave in November 2020 an additional year to find a buyer for its Hammond property. The company had by that time agreed to sell Caesars Southern Indiana to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for $250 million and Tropicana Evansville to Bally’s Corporation for $480 million.
Caesars is now reportedly trying to persuade Indiana’s gambling regulator that it is the best owner Horseshoe Hammond, the state’s highest grossing casino, could have. It has also emerged that the Gaming Commission is open to hearing the operator’s arguments.
Caesars Maintaining Ownership over Hammond Casino in State’s Best Interest?
Gaming officials have listed the “Horseshoe Hammond Divestiture Order” as an item on their agenda for their upcoming Thursday meeting. However, when asked by local news outlets, they have declined to provide further details.
Public record requests submitted by The Times of Northwest Indiana uncovered recent letters from Caesars CEO Tom Reeg and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., in which they urge the Gaming Commission to reconsider its order for the company to sell its Hammond property.
Mr. Reeg said in his letter that the Hoosier State would benefit from leaving his company in control of the gambling venue amid an ongoing shakeup in the regional market caused by last month’s opening of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in Gary, along with pending development of casinos in nearby Chicago and Illinois’ south suburban Cook County.
Hammond’s Mayor echoed Caesars’ sentiment, saying in his letter that under the Nevada casino powerhouse, Horseshoe Hammond is a “superior product” that attracts visitors from Northwest Indiana and from across the state line.
Mayor McDermott further pointed out in his letter that with competition coming from neighboring Illinois in the next couple of years, “now it is even more important to shore up the competitive advantage we have at our gaming location in Hammond.”
Mr. Reeg said in his letter that they believe “maintaining stewardship over Horseshoe Hammond is in the best interest of the state of Indiana” and asked the “commission to allow us to keep Horseshoe in the Caesars family.”
Source: Hammond Horseshoe Casino could remain part of Caesars’ empire, The Shelbyville News, June 22, 2021