Anatomy Of A Merger Part III: Caesars, Eldorado & How Sports Betting Fits

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In a deal that has far-reaching implications, Eldorado Resorts agreed to purchase and merge with Caesars Entertainment. In a new three-part series, Play USA will analyze how the $17.3 billion deal impacts the land-based casinos, online gambling, and sports betting. 

When Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment join forces in the first half of 2020 (contingent upon the approval of shareholders, state regulatory bodies, and the FTC) it will possess dozens of casino properties spread across 17 states.

That US market access is vital when it comes to sports betting, which is being legalized on a state-by-state basis.

In this, the third and final installment of the series, Play USA will take a look at the sports betting implications of the proposed Caesars-Eldorado merger. (Part I detailed what will happen with its land-based casinos, and Part II analyzed what could happen with its joint collection of online partnerships.)

Caesars has market access

Caesars has a boatload of casinos in quite a few states. In fact, only Penn National is active in more states than Caesars.

That said, with a roster of 40 casinos, one would expect Caesars to be active in more than 13 states. How is a company with 40 casinos only operational in 13 states? The answer is, Caesars has multiple properties in nine of those states, including a whopping 14 casinos in Nevada alone.

Caesars has sports betting access in a 14th state, New York, thanks to a partnership with the Oneida Tribe.

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Illinois
  4. Indiana
  5. Iowa
  6. Louisiana
  7. Maryland
  8. Mississippi
  9. Missouri
  10. Nevada
  11. New Jersey
  12. New York
  13. North Carolina
  14. Pennsylvania

The good news is 11 of those states currently have legal sports betting or are in the process of legalizing it.

Eldorado’s market access

Eldorado has 26 casino properties spread across 12 US markets.

  1. Colorado
  2. Florida
  3. Illinois
  4. Indiana
  5. Iowa
  6. Louisiana
  7. Mississippi
  8. Missouri
  9. Nevada
  10. New Jersey
  11. Ohio
  12. West Virginia

A quick perusal of the above list shows a lot of overlap with Caesars.

In fact, Eldorado adds just four states, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and West Virginia to the mix. However, two of those states, Ohio and Florida, are serious prizes. The population of Florida and Ohio is 33 million, equivalent to about 10% of the US population.

A litany of sports betting partnerships to navigate

Caesars and Eldorado each bring a number of sports betting partners to the table. As noted in Part II, consolidation is likely, if and when the companies merge.

Eldorado sports betting partners

In September 2018, Eldorado acquired 20% of William Hill US. That deal provides William Hill with primary market access (retail and online) to the states Eldorado is active in.

While William Hill powers its existing operations, Eldorado has also entered into a partnership with The Stars Group. TSG (via its partnership with FOX Sports) will have online market access in states that allow multiple skins.

Caesars sports betting partners

Caesars brings its own sports betting partner to the table in Scientific Games. SG powers Caesars online sportsbooks across the country.

And like Eldorado, Caesars entered into a second online sports betting partnership, teaming up with DraftKings.  As is the case with TSG and Eldorado, the deal provides DraftKings secondary access to certain markets where Caesars operates land-based casinos.

Caesars also has a ton of deals in place with Turner Sports, ESPN, the NFL, and the following individual teams:

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • New Jersey Devils
  • Philadelphia 76ers

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Who will get purged?

The abundance of partners and redundancy in function is screaming for a purge should the merger come to fruition.

With Eldorado having a significant equity stake in William Hill, and with that company’s track record globally, that partnership should be safe.

The chatter so far backs up that assessment.

ERI talks sports during conference call

During an investors call following the announcement of the merger, Eldorado stated:

“We bring the William Hill and The Stars Group access partnerships. Caesars has a plethora of sports partnerships, including league partnerships, team partnerships, ESPN… and we see them all fitting together. We would see William Hill and TSG rolling into access deals across the Caesars portfolio to the extent that they’re not already offered in our portfolio. But we think the opportunity in sports betting in the combined company is as good as there is out there at this point.”

William Hill stakes its claim as the top dog

And in a statement, William Hill intimated it’s not going anywhere:

“William Hill entered into a strategic partnership with its long term business partner Eldorado in September 2018. Under the agreement, William Hill gained the right to exclusively operate sports books at all properties owned or managed by Eldorado in the United States and to operate mobile sports betting in states where Eldorado obtains a license. These rights apply to casino properties owned or managed by Eldorado when the strategic partnership was signed and any subsequent acquisitions. Therefore, the rights apply to casinos currently owned or managed by Caesars if Eldorado’s acquisition of Caesars is completed.”

That doesn’t bode well for Scientific Games, which as noted in Part II, is rumored to have a shaky relationship with Caesars.

As far as the two secondary partnerships with DraftKings and TSG-Fox Bet, those will likely remain as second and third options in markets that allow multiple skins. Both are self-sufficient operators that provide strong branding. And if they aren’t under the Caesars umbrella, both companies would have little issue finding another partner. So, if they’re going to be in the market no matter what, it’s better to be working with them than against them.

Steve Ruddock

About

Steve Ruddock is an avid poker player and a veteran member of the gaming media. His primary focus is on the regulated US online casino and poker markets. He writes for numerous online and print publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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