The first of many state regulatory bodies has granted approval to Eldorado Resorts’ planned acquisition of Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Eldorado announced Wednesday that it received approval from the Missouri Gaming Commission to continue with the $17.3 billion acquisition. Eldorado and Caesars will have to gain approval from regulatory bodies from all 17 states in which the merged company will operate, including Nevada. It will also need approval from the Federal Trade Commission.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board declined to share when it expects the matter to be brought before the board.
Shareholders of both companies voted overwhelmingly in favor of the merger Nov. 15. The buyout is slated to form the world’s largest casino company by gaming assets. The deal would put about 60 casinos, 51,000 hotel rooms, 71,000 slot machines and 3,650 table games under one name.
Eldorado CEO Thomas Reeg expects the deal to close early next year.
“We’re still targeting a first half of 2020 closing date,” Reeg told investors during a third-quarter earnings call in November. “If I were to place a bet today, I’d be betting on a first-quarter close versus a second-quarter close. But we’re going through regulatory and antitrust in real time.”
Caesars operates one Missouri property, Harrah’s North Kansas City, while Eldorado operates four casinos in the state: Isle of Capri Casino Boonville, Isle Casino Cape Girardeau, Lady Luck Casino Caruthersville and Isle of Capri Casino Kansas City.
The combined company is set to operate in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Under terms of the deal, announced in June, Eldorado will pay $7.2 billion in cash and 77 million shares of stock to acquire 51 percent of Caesars. The company will take the Caesars name — along with its existing debt — and keep its headquarters in Reno.
Eldorado owned one property in West Virginia but agreed to sell the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in New Cumberland to Colorado-based Century Casinos in June. The deal is expected to close early next year.