Inside Gaming: Caesars Acquires Centaur After $1M Fine in Indiana

Inside Gaming: Caesars Acquires Centaur After $1M Fine in Indiana
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  • Indiana regulators fine Caesars Entertainment $1M, then approve acquisition of Centaur Gaming.

  • The Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino open for business a day ahead of schedule.

This week's installment of Inside Gaming shares news of a Las Vegas-based gaming company facing a big fine in Indiana, reports on leadership changes at the American Gaming Association, and looks in on this week's opening of two new casinos in Atlantic City.

Caesars to Pay $1 Million Fine for Attempt to Avoid Indiana License Transfer Fee, Acquires Centaur

At a meeting on Thursday, Caesars Entertainment Corp. agreed to pay a $1 million fine levied upon them by the Indiana Gaming Commission for its attempt not to pay a $50 million license transfer fee to the state, reports The IndyStar.

The fine, related to Caesars' acquisition of Indianapolis-based Centaur Gaming and its Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson, is among the highest ever in the history of gaming in Indiana.

In March, representatives of the company had threatened to cancel a $90 million project to move its Horseshoe Southern Indiana riverboat casino on land unless regulators would agree the $50 million transfer fee for Hoosier Park would not apply, The IndyStar explains. The Indiana Gaming Commission interpreted such a threat as an inappropriate attempt to pressure them into waiving the fee.

Sue Carletta, Caesars VP, on Thursday told the commission the company accepts "full responsibility for the matters that led to the settlement agreement." Besides paying the $1M fine, Caesars also agreed to improve its compliance training and to enhance monitoring and vetting of representatives' communications going forward.

Later on Thursday, regulators did approve Caesars Entertainment's $1.7 billion purchase of Centaur Gaming and its Hoosier Park Racing and Casino, the Associated Press reports.

The commission also approved Penn National Gaming's purchase of Pinnacle Entertainment, a $2.8 billion deal first agreed to by the companies back in December.

Caesars' plan to move Horseshoe Southern Indiana — a.k.a. "The Boat" — was approved by the commission in April, with a current schedule for the new casino to open during the second half of 2019. The move inland was made possible by a 2015 law permitting riverboat casinos to move onto land if the move keeps the property within its existing footprint.

American Gaming Association Names Interim CEO After Freeman Departure

Earlier this month Geoff Freeman announced his intention to step down from his position as CEO of the American Gaming Association after five years. This week the AGA announced that Stacy Papadopoulos, currently the AGA's general counsel and senior VP of industry services, would step into the role on an interim basis until a new CEO is named, according to CDC Gaming Reports.

Freeman was the AGA's second CEO after taking over in 2013 from Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. who had headed the organization since he helped co-found it in 1995. No timetable has been announced with regard to the naming of a new CEO.

As an advocate for casinos and the gaming industry, the AGA under Freeman's leadership "transitioned to serve more as an advocate for gaming expansion and advance a proactive public policy agenda."

The AGA has been a longtime proponent of legalized sports betting. Thus was the May ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the prohibition on individual states' offering sports betting greeted with enthusiasm by the AGA who described the decision "a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner."

Hard Rock Atlantic City, Ocean Resort Casino Open One Day Early in Atlantic City

Last week we looked forward to the opening of not one but two new hotel-casinos on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, where both the Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino were scheduled to open within a couple of hours of each other on Thursday.

The doors indeed swung open on both properties this week, though a day early on Wednesday after receiving permission to do so from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. According to NJ.com, the Hard Rock Atlantic City got the okay to begin full operations at 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, while just a couple of doors down the boardwalk the Ocean Resort was approved to begin admitting customers at 5:45 p.m.

Yesterday came the more formal ceremonies, press conferences, and speeches at both properties, with some guitar smashing as well at the newly-branded Hard Rock Live arena (formerly the Etess Arena).

The music-focused Hard Rock property has Carrie Underwood and PitBull performing this weekend, the first of an estimated 300 concerts planned for the property's first year. Meanwhile only the Ocean Resort is ready right away to join the Borgata as the first Atlantic City casinos to offer sports betting.

Operated by William Hill US, the Ocean Resort's sportsbook will not be fully ready until late July or early August, reports The Inquirer. However, auxiliary windows were open Wednesday afternoon in time to take bets on the afternoon matches in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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