Harrah’s to become Hollywood before 2012 ends
In 1997, just three years after the formation of the Missouri Gaming Commission, Harrah’s St. Louis Casino opened for business. Today, it is the region’s second-busiest casino with $268.4 million spent there last year.
But it seems that those earnings weren’t enough for parent company Caesars Entertainment Corporation.
On May 7, Caesars announced that it had entered into an agreement with Penn National Gaming, Inc., owners of Argosy Casino Alton to sell the Maryland Heights casino for $610 million.
In a press statement, Gary Loveman, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Caesars Entertainment, said: “Harrah’s St. Louis is a quality property with a talented team. We are grateful to our colleagues in St. Louis for their commitment to providing excellent service to our customers. The sale of this property exemplifies our strategy to maximize returns from our mix of assets through investments in new markets as well as occasional divestitures. We are committed to expanding our distribution network into growth markets that have the potential for high returns.”
On the other hand, Penn National seems delighted to be acquiring the 120,000-square-feet (gaming space) casino and 500-room hotel.
“The planned addition of Harrah’s St. Louis will further expand Penn National’s regional operating platform with a facility that is extremely well-positioned in a large metropolitan market,” said Peter Carlino, chief executive of Penn, in announcing the transaction.
Penn National already owns one casino in the St. Louis market Argosy Casino Alton, which it acquired in its 2004 purchase of Argosy Gaming. An Argosy casino in Riverside, Mo., north of Kansas City, is its only other Missouri property; however, Missouri ownership may speed the acquisition process, which has to be approved by the Missouri Gaming Commission.
If all goes well, Harrah’s should change hands before the year ends. Until that time, players will continue to gamble under the familiar Harrah’s brand and Total Rewards offerings.
Once the transaction is complete Penn National plans to rebrand Harrah’s under its Hollywood Casino brand. The nearest Hollywood Casino is currently located at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. In total, Penn National owns 26 facilities in 19 jurisdictions.