The Federal Trade Commission has approved the long-anticipated $17 billion merger between casino giants Eldorado and Caesars after the former agreed to sell two of its casinos.
The deal comes amid a time when commercial casinos around the United States, including those under the Eldorado and Caesars banners, are reopening after the outbreak of coronavirus shut them all down for at least a couple of months.
Eldorado must sell the MontBleu casino in Stateline, Nevada, as part of the deal, according to a report in the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Caesars owns both Harveys and Harrah’s at Stateline, according to the paper.
The sale of Eldorado Shreveport Resort and Casino in Louisiana is also part of the agreement.
“We are delighted to announce the FTC’s approval of our planned merger with Caesars, which is expected to create the largest owner and operator of U.S. gaming assets,” Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg said in a company news release.
The FTC gave its stamp of approval on Friday, accepting a proposed consent order. Shareholders from Caesars and Eldorado had already approved the deal. The deal must be approved by the gaming commissions and affiliated bodies in Nevada, New Jersey and Indiana, but that should be a formality.
The merger was initially announced in June 2019. The merged company will retain Caesars branding.
Not unexpectedly, both companies saw profits plummet in the first quarter of 2020 as casinos were closed around the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. Caesars was down 13.6% from January to March 2020 while Eldorado’s net revenue decreased 25.6%.
The Caesars brand has continued to grow even amid merger talks and the coronavirus closures. In May, the city of Danville, Virginia, chose Caesars as its preferred casino partner for a proposed project. The city is one of five in Virginia allowed to put a referendum on November’s ballot; each city is individually asking its citizens to approve casino gaming. Virginia currently has no casinos, but in 2020 the state is not only allowing those five cities to seek voters’ permission to build one, it is also allowing provisions for sports betting at those facilities.
Caesars currently owns 53 properties worldwide, 39 in the United States. Eldorado owns 23 properties in the U.S. market.