VICI, Hard Rock Buy JACK Cincinnati
Hard Rock International is expanding its global gaming portfolio, announcing a collaboration with VICI Properties to acquire the JACK Cincinnati Casino. Through the joint purchase, Hard Rock will acquire the operating assets of the casino, rebranding it Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, while VICI will own the land and real estate assets. The deal also includes the Cincinnati-area racino, Turfway Park.
“Hard Rock has been the number-one operator in Ohio since opening in the greater Cleveland market in 2013,” said Jim Allen, chairman and CEO of Hard Rock International. “And now, we look forward to introducing our unique brand of casino entertainment to Cincinnati. On behalf of the 40,000 Hard Rock team members worldwide, I am pleased to welcome the more than 1,000 JACK Cincinnati employees into the Hard Rock family.”
Hard Rock had operated Hard Rock Northfield, which became the state’s leading revenue earner despite a lack of table games, until earlier this month, when it was turned over to the new owner, MGM Growth Properties, and operator, MGM Resorts. The property has been rebranded as MGM Northfield.
JACK Cincinnati, which opened as the Horseshoe in a joint venture between Gilbert and Caesars, is situated on 22 acres in the Broadway Commons area of downtown Cincinnati. The property features 100,000 square feet of gaming space with approximately 1,800 gaming machines and 100 table games. Additionally, the property contains 33,000 square feet of meeting space, six high-quality restaurants and two bars. New property improvements will be announced by Hard Rock later this year.
“We are proud to partner with Hard Rock, further diversifying our tenant roster with an international leader in gaming, entertainment and hospitality experiences and a renowned global platform of 245 hospitality venues across 75 countries,” said John Payne, president and chief operating officer of VICI Properties.
VICI Properties was a spinoff of Caesars Entertainment and its portfolio includes dozens of properties operated by that gaming giant.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions and is expected to close in late 2019. The acquisition is expected to be accretive immediately upon closing.
Jack Entertainment, owned largely by Quicken Loans founder and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, has declared a desire to exit the casino business but a release by the company said, “JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Thistledown Racino will not be impacted by this transaction and JACK Entertainment remains committed to investing in and operating these properties.”
“We viewed the gaming industry as a catalyst for economic development in our local communities. After ten years, hundreds of millions of dollars of investment developing JACK Cincinnati Casino from the ground up, and establishing a strong customer focused culture, we have successfully positioned JACK Cincinnati Casino for further future success,” said Matt Cullen, chief executive officer of JACK Entertainment. “We are confident that Hard Rock and its world-renowned brand will be a great addition to the Queen City and the right choice to take JACK Cincinnati Casino and Turfway Park to the next level of growth. We chose to sell to Hard Rock, in large part, due to its great culture and quality of its leadership. They are an outstanding operator that JACK Cincinnati Casino and Turfway Park team members will enjoy working with as they continue to deliver excellent service to our guests.”
Maybe not so ironically, JACK Entertainment was originally called “Rock Gaming” and was changed because of its similarity to Hard Rock.
Jones Day served as legal advisor to Hard Rock together with Fox Rothschild LLP, as special gaming counsel.