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Casino giants Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment are officially one.
The companies closed on their long-awaited deal on Monday following approval from the Federal Trade Commission and gaming regulators in more than a dozen US states. The $17.3 billion transaction, structured as an acquisition by Eldorado, makes Caesars the country’s largest gambling company.
“We are pleased to have completed this transformative merger, thus making us the premier leader in gaming and hospitality,” said CEO Tom Reeg. “We look forward to executing on the numerous opportunities ahead to create value for all stakeholders.”
A lot has changed in the year since the Eldorado and Caesars announced their intentions, of course. The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the news cycle for several months and at one point forced the closure of every casino in the US.
Given their reliance on brick-and-mortar gambling and hospitality, these two companies have been among the hardest hit.
Per reporting from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Caesars planned to trim thousands of jobs before its Nevada casinos even closed their doors in March. It put 90% of its nationwide workforce on furlough in early April, and at least 3,200 of those will become permanent layoffs.
Eldorado similarly furloughed most of its workers across 11 states in April.
Current struggles aside, the company certainly seems to be positioned for long-term success in its primary business of gambling. Caesars now operates more than 55 casinos in 16 states, including a number with live or pending online gambling industries.
Therein lies perhaps the biggest opportunity, and one neither Eldorado nor “Old Caesars” has yet taken full advantage of.
Eldorado does have a nationwide sports betting partner in William Hill, which now inherits the entire kingdom. The big British bookmaker will take over retail and online sportsbook operations for all Caesars properties going forward, including its flagship casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Additionally, the company is building out its digital presence under its own Caesars and WSOP brands, offering online gambling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. WSOP is so far the only legal site with access to a multistate poker network connecting NJ with Delaware and Nevada.
It does not, however, have access to either of the two US online gambling markets pending launch — West Virginia and Michigan. Eldorado recently sold off its property in the former, Mountaineer, as a way to reduce debt ahead of the Caesars transaction.
Michigan is the bigger omission from the Caesars portfolio, though, a state with a top-ten population and a sports presence across the “big four” professional leagues and college athletics.
Caesars would need to partner with a land-based casino licensee to offer online gambling in Michigan, including poker.