casino

MEDIANEWS GROUP FILE PHOTO

Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester.

A Reno, Nev. family-owned business, Eldorado Resorts Inc., entered into a $17.3 billion acquisition of Caesars Entertainment Corp., which operates the Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester.

"Eldorado's combination with Caesars will create the largest owner and operator of U.S. gaming assets and is a strategically, financially and operationally compelling opportunity that brings immediate and long-term value to stakeholders of both companies," Tom Reeg, chief executive officer of Eldorado, said. "We could not be more excited about the future as we bring together two industry leaders that will generate significant opportunities for our employees, customers, partners and shareholders."

Caesars' officials were equally pleased.

Jim Hunt, Caesars' chairman, said the combination of these companies would create an even stronger entity that will provide immediate and ongoing value.

Tony Rodio, Caesars'  chief executive officer, agreed.

"We believe this combination will build on the accomplishments and best-in-class operating practices of both companies," he said. "By joining forces, we believe the new Caesars will be well-positioned to compete in our dynamic industry."

In addition to Harrah's Philadelphia, Caesars operates casinos on three continents. In the United States, it owns and operates 34 casinos in nine states. Its properties include 48,000 slot machines and VLTs, 3,000 table games and more than 39,000 hotel rooms. 

Founded in Reno, Nev., in 1937, Caesars is now based in Las Vegas.

Eldorado Resorts owns and operates 26 properties in 12 states, featuring 23,000 slot machines and VLTs, 650 table games and more than 12,000 hotel rooms. It was founded by lawyer Donald Carano, who opened the company's hotel casino in Reno in 1973 even though associates and friends warned him against it. Although Carano died two years ago, the Carano family is still heavily involved with Gary Carano as its board chairman.

At the conclusion of this deal, Eldorado will assume the operation role at the 2 million square-foot Harrah's Philadelphia, which opened as Harrah's Chester in 2007 on the site of the former Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.

At the end of last year, VICI Properties bought the Delaware County entertainment complex for $241.5 million. The casino features 2,263 slot machines, 110 table games, seven eateries including Guy Fieri's Philly Kitchen + Bar, a 5/8 mile harness racetrack and a parking garage. As part of the VICI deal, Caesars agreed to rent the property from VICI for an annual rent of $21 million with 1.5 percent annual rent escalators.

In a report entitled "Invest: Philadelphia 2019," Chris Albrecht, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah's Philadelphia, said the site draws millions annually.

"Harrah's is an anchor institution for the City of Chester, drawing over 2.7 million customer visits to the area in the last year," he said. "The city sees a direct benefit from the tax out of our facility. Our gaming operations are taxed and that money goes directly to Delaware County and the City of Chester."

The city receives approximately $10 million annually at a minimum plus up to $5 million for a slot machine license operation fee.

In May, Harrah's Philadelphia reported $199 million in wagers and $179 million in payouts on slot machines; $4.2 million in gross revenues for table games; and $138,094 in gross revenue from sports wagering.

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