JACK Entertainment deal for Cincinnati Casino joins Hard Rock, VICI

Posted on: September 22, 2019, 12:20 pm.

Last update on: September 22, 2019, 6:14 am.

Steve Bittenbender

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JACK Entertainment announced on Friday that the sale of its JACK Casino Cincinnati to Hard Rock International and VICI Properties has been completed.

JACK Casino Cincinnati will soon be renamed after Dan Gilberts JACK Entertainment stopped selling the casino to Hard Rock International and VICI Properties. Under the agreement, VICI Properties will own the venue and rent it to Hard Rock. (Image: JACK Entertainment)

The announcement came two days after the Ohio Casino Control Commission approved a new casino operator license for Hard Rock at its monthly meeting.

As part of the $ 745 million deal, VICI Properties acquired the JACK subsidiary, which owned the downtown Cincinnati venue. VICI, a spin-off of Caesars Entertainment’s Real Estate Investment Trust, then signed a lease agreement with Hard Rock, which will operate the casino and own the gaming assets.

“We are pleased to officially welcome Hard Rock International and its world-renowned brand to Queen City,” said Mark Dunkeson, CEO of JACK Entertainment, in a press release. “After 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars of investments developing JACK Cincinnati Casino from the ground up, we are confident that the property will continue to be a success as Hard Rock International takes it to the next level of growth. “

The casino with 1,800 machines and 100 table games on 100,000 square meters will be renamed Hard Rock Cincinnati next spring, according to a publication by Hard Rock.

Turfway sale is pending

Both sides announced the deal for the Cincinnati Casino back in April. At that time, the parties announced that the transaction would also include Turfway Park, a Kentucky racetrack located 20 minutes south of downtown Cincinnati.

JACK’s announcement said that the Turfway sale would close “in the coming months” as it still requires approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC). The estimated retail price is $ 35 million.

However, with the sale pending, Turfway faces a new challenge in the market from Churchill Downs Inc. The Louisville, Kentucky company announced plans to invest up to $ 200 million in a northern Kentucky facility that is both purebred Racing machines (HHR) should offer races as well as historical horses. The planned Churchill Downs route is slated to run in 2020 on the same dates that Turfway has traditionally held.

Hard Rock and JACK have announced that they will jointly take action against Churchill’s move. Hard Rock is investing up to $ 100 million in upgrades and adding HHR machines.

The KHRC, which criticized the management of Turfway through JACK Entertainment, will decide on the 2020 racing calendar and possibly approve the Turfway sale.

JACK cuts back

JACK Entertainment, owned by Dan Gilbert, is in the midst of downsizing. Earlier this year, the company completed the sale of the Greektown Casino hotel in Detroit, valued at $ 1 billion to Penn National Gaming.

The completion of the Cincinnati Casino sale and pending approval of the Turfway sale leaves JACK with only two properties, JACK Cleveland and JACK Thistledown. The latter is a Racino in the Cleveland area.

Due to the turnover, the company announced that it would lay off 92 employees. In addition, JACK has realigned its management structure.

Earlier this month, Dunkeson took over the helm from Matt Cullen, who served in a similar role at Bedrock, Gilbert’s development company. Cullen remains chairman of the JACK board of directors.

Dunkeson also has responsibilities at Bedrock and four other JACK executives will join the development company later this year.

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