On Wednesday, Nevada became the 14th and final state to approve the $2.8 billion acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment by Penn National Gaming (PNG).

Penn National

Penn National Gaming CEO Tim Wilmott said Nevada was the final hurdle to completing the deal and he now expected it to be finalized “by mid-October.” (Image: Jeff Scheid/LVRJ)

Following a special hearing of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission, PNG CEO Tim Wilmott said the company expects to close transaction in mid-October.

The number of states required to sign off this deal reflects its grand scale. This union of the two biggest regional casino operators in the US spans 20 states across the country. It will create a regional casino powerhouse of 41 casino properties, operating some 53,500 slots, 1,300 table games, and 8,300 casino hotel rooms.

FTC Green Light Includes Conditions

Nevada’s endorsement came a day after the deal had been approved by the US Federal Trade Commission, on condition of the sale of four Pinnacle properties in Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio to Nevada-based Boyd Gaming.

PNG and Pinnacle agreed to sell the properties to Boyd last year for $575 million, anticipating the FTC would have concerns about PNG’s market regional dominance in those three states.

PNG currently operates 28 properties in 16 states. The Pinnacle deal, minus the Boyd properties, will add 11 casinos in nine states and a racetrack in Texas. It will also expand PNG’s footprint into three brand new states — Colorado, Louisiana and Iowa.

According to Howard Stutz of CDC Gaming Reports, the Control Board took 37 minutes to unanimously recommend approval of the takeover. The Gaming Commission, which had been monitoring hearing by teleconference, then asked a few additional questions before approving the recommendation, also unanimously.

Strategic Move

In Nevada, PNG will acquire the HorseshU Hotel & Casino and Cactus Petes Casino Resort, both in Jackpot, Nevada, close to the Idaho border.

PNG owns the Tropicana Las Vegas and M Resort in the city of Henderson. The Pennsylvania-based company will also acquire Pinnacle’s corporate headquarters in Las Vegas.

The deal is the latest in a series of mergers and acquisitions in the US gambling industry in recent years as companies look to consolidate their resources, increase scale and reach, diversify their business, and capitalize on recent legalization of gaming in certain states.

“We’re seeing these mergers all over the place, but these are important moves,” said Tony Alamo, chairman of Nevada Gaming Commission, as reported by Stutz. “If done correctly, you can win or lose the game. Penn is buying Pinnacle, but this is a merger.”