Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Celebrate New Indiana Casino
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are the new owners of the Caesars Southern Indiana casino, with an official ribbon cutting taking place recently to celebrate.
In general, tribal gaming operators will stick to offering casino gaming options on sovereign lands. However, in some cases, tribes will change things up and get involved in commercial operations. Such is the case in Indiana. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are now in charge of the Caesars Southern Indiana casino and just recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate.
Details of the Acquisition
The commercial gaming arm of the tribe is EBCI Holdings. The company took over the casino in September after the state Gaming Commission approved the sale the month prior. Caesars Entertainment sold the casino to the company for $250 million. The deal started last December, and it took several months to complete.
It looks as though while the operator has changed, most everything else will stay the same. There may be updates added later on and some dining changes, but other than that, the operations should stay the same.
With the deal, the new owners can keep the name via a licensing agreement that was part of the sale. The casino just moved to land from a riverboat license a couple of years ago and the land-based casino cost $90 million to create.
It was open for only a few months before the pandemic caused a closure and then reopening process. Essentially, the tribe is now operating a new building and offering a world-class facility with a great team at the helm. The company decided to keep the entire workforce of Caesars when obtaining the property.
Why Get into Commercial Gaming?
The company decided to focus on commercial gaming after seeing competition within its North Carolina operations. The Cherokees have been fighting for some time against the federal government and the casino of the Catawba Nation near the city of Charlotte. Commercial casinos have also been approved in Virginia, which will lead to even more competition or the tribe.
To counter the potential competition, EBCI decided to hire Scott Barber, who is now the CEO of the company. As part of the consulting process, it was determined that Indiana was a good market entry point that would help to alleviate some competition.
It was a good time to consider Indiana as Caesars and Eldorado Resorts were merging. To create the large gaming company, both entities had to sell some properties. This included the Indiana Gaming Commission requiring Caesars to sell some property in Indiana. This created a perfect opportunity for the tribe to pick up the Southern Indiana casino.
With the new acquisition, there are challenges that EBCI will face. Tribal citizens must realize that the nation will not receive proceeds from the casino right away. The annual term will only offer a 25% return to the tribe.
In most cases, tribes operate on sovereign lands, so they do not have to pay the state or federal government anything. With this casino, it is a commercial property, so it is subject to traditional laws and regulations like other non-tribal gaming venues.
With casinos on tribal lands, all the money comes back to the tribe and can go towards programs or member needs. This venue offers a smaller return, but the money can be invested into other properties and opportunities to help spur growth. It will take quite a bit to be able to help the losses expected from the new resort coming from the Catawba as well as when the new casinos in Virginia open up.