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FTC rules on Caesars-Eldorado merger plan

The planned merger between Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment got another green light to proceed on Friday when the Federal Trade Commission said the deal can overcome antitrust concerns by selling casinos in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada and the Bossier City-Shreveport area in Louisiana. 

 The FTC made an announcement Friday morning that the sale of those two properties settles charges that Eldorado’s $17.3 billion agreement to acquire Caesars Entertainment would “likely be anticompetitive” in those markets. 

The deal is expected to be completed in July after going through the approval process by state regulators across the country. 

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The FTC also said the settlement gives it the option to require additional divestiture in the Kansas City market if the sale of the Isle of Capri casino does not go through within 60 days of the merger. 

Eldorado is required to divest of the MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa in the South Lake Tahoe area to Twin River Worldwide Holdings. Eldorado is also required to sell the Eldorado Casino Resort in Louisiana to Twin River. 

The sales overcome the allegation that the proposed acquisition “would harm competition for casino services” in those three markets, the FTC said. 

“The combination thus would increase the likelihood that Eldorado would unilaterally exercise market power, leading to higher prices and reduced quality for consumers of casino services,” the FTC said in its statement. 

Caesars operates 53 properties in 14 states, while Eldorado owns and operates 23 properties in 11 states.  

The completion of the merger remains “subject to the satisfaction of other closing conditions, including receipt of all consents and approvals” from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Nevada Gaming Commission, New Jersey Casino Control Commission, Indiana Gaming Commission and Indiana Horse Racing Commission, Caesars said in a statement.
 
“We are pleased that the FTC’s approval of our planned Merger with Eldorado paves the way for securing the remaining consents and approvals from regulators in Indiana, Nevada and New Jersey. All of us at Caesars are committed to completing the Merger, which is expected to create the largest U.S. gaming company,” said Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment.