Hard Rock to Buy JACK Cincinnati Casino, Turfway Park in $780M Deal

Posted on: April 5, 2019, 11:57h. 

Last updated on: July 21, 2019, 04:26h.

JACK Entertainment LLC announced on Friday morning that it reached an agreement to sell its casino in Cincinnati, Ohio and Turfway Park, a horse racing facility in northern Kentucky, to Hard Rock International.

Bettors take seats at JACK Cincinnati’s Synergy table games area, which combines live table gaming with video gaming. JACK announced on Friday it would sell the Cincinnati casino and Turfway Park to Hard Rock International. (Source: JACK Entertainment)

Parties involved in the $780 million deal expect it to close later this year. The sale also will require regulatory approvals at the state and federal levels.

With the sale, JACK continues paring down its gaming portfolio. In November, it sold its Greektown Casino-Hotel for $1 billion to Penn National and VICI Properties. In that deal, VICI bought the property, while Penn National acquired the operating assets.

VICI is also involved in Friday’s transaction. It bought the 22-acre downtown Cincinnati property from JACK and entered into a “favorable triple-net leased fee arrangement” with Hard Rock, which also operates a casino in Cleveland.

Once authorities sign off on the sale, Hard Rock will announce a rebranding effort and property improvement for the 100,000-square-foot Cincinnati casino.

“We look forward to introducing our unique brand of casino entertainment to Cincinnati,” Hard Rock International Chairman and CEO Jim Allen said in a statement.

JACK Committed to Cleveland Market

JACK Entertainment still will run the JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Thistledown Racino, which is also located in the Cleveland area. Dan Gilbert, better known as the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers NBC franchise, founded the company and Rock Ventures, JACK’s parent company.

Matt Cullen, JACK Entertainment CEO, told Casino.org the company remains committed to those properties.

Our operational and capital plans for the two Cleveland properties remain on track and are not impacted by the sale of JACK Cincinnati and Turfway Park,” he said. “We look forward to continuing to grow the Cleveland businesses and reinvesting in those properties.”

The company also maintains a minority interest in Horseshoe Baltimore, a casino in Maryland.

A decade ago, Ohio voters approved a referendum to allow land-based casinos to operate in the state’s four largest cities. A year later, Rock Ventures bought a 20-acre tract in the northeast corner of downtown Cincinnati for $35 million.

After redeveloping the old industrial and railyard site, Horseshoe Cincinnati opened in March 2013. It became JACK Cincinnati three years later.

The Cincinnati area has several gaming facilities in the region. Two Ohio racinos are within a short drive of downtown Cincinnati. In nearby Southern Indiana, three communities feature riverboat casinos within an hour’s drive.

Cullen told Casino.org that competition did not factor into the decision to sell. The Cincinnati casino generated $203.5 million in revenue last year, making it the top gaming attraction in the area.

“We viewed the gaming industry as a catalyst for economic development in our local communities, and after 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment our goals relative to JACK Cincinnati and Turfway Park have been achieved and the properties are primed for further future success,” he said.

Hard Rock Wanted Both

Turfway Park, located in the Cincinnati suburb of Florence, Ky., is about a 20-minute drive from the casino.

Cullen said the two properties have a natural connection due to their proximity. However, company officials didn’t need to sell Hard Rock on the track.

“In this instance, Hard Rock demonstrated interest in purchasing both together,” he said.

Turfway typically runs live racing from December to March. It also offers simulcasting throughout the year.

Marc Guilfoil, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, told Casino.org the agency will review Hard Rock’s application when it’s received.