While Baton Rouge gaming operatives are waiting to see if Eldorado Resorts will invest in its Belle of Baton Rouge casino, bought last year as part of its $1.85 billion acquisition of Tropicana Entertainment, the company has closed on another casino group, making it one of the largest gambling companies in the US, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Eldorado Resorts will pony up $8.58 billion to buy Caesars Entertainment Group. Also part of the deal, Eldorado agreed to sell the land and real-estate assets associated with Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel & Casino, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City and Harrah’s Laughlin Hotel & Casino to VICI Properties Inc. for $1.8 billion.
Since acquiring the former Catfish Town property last year, Eldorado has been tight-lipped about any investment plans for the Belle, which has seen the steepest revenue losses out of the city’s three riverboat casinos. In a November conference call, Eldorado Chairman and CEO Gary Carano told investors it would be “highly unlikely” the company would do anything at the Baton Rouge property based on its early analysis there, opting instead to invest in its Lake Charles property, but Belle of Baton Rouge General Manager Jim Rigot is more optimistic about the company’s possible investment.
In February, the company toured the Baton Rouge facility to scout out possible improvements and since then, Rigot told Daily Report last week Eldorado has contracted architects and designers to compile possibilities for the property.
“That doesn’t mean we’re moving forward (on renovations),” Rigot said, adding he hopes to have an investment announcement by the end of the year. “We’re not going to go forward unless we feel there’s an ROI.”
It’s unclear whether the Caesars acquisition will affect possible investment into the Belle of Baton Rouge. Rigot was unable to be reached this morning for comment.
Eldorado, with more than 25 properties, has a market value of about $4 billion with more than $3 billion in debt. Caesars has a market value of $6.72 billion. With the deal, Eldorado would also assume Caesars’ debt, which is about $8.8 billion. After the deal is complete, Eldorado would own 51% of the combined company and Caesars would hold 49%.