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Hard Rock remains in Ohio gaming scene with Cincinnati casino partnership

Hard Rock International has recently added to its gaming presence – this time in Ohio.
HRI has purchased JACK Cincinnati Casino with New York City-based VICI Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT).

Media reports said the property was sold to HRI and VICI for $745 million – with VICI acquiring the land and real estate for $558 million, while HRI bought the operating assets of the casino for $187 million. JACK Entertainment officials said in a statement that the purchase price was $780 million.

HRI is expected to lease the casino from VICI for $43 million a year – eventually rebranding it as the Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati. JACK Entertainment officials said Hard Rock also agreed to purchase the operations and real estate of Turfway Park, located near Cincinnati in Florence, Kentucky.

HRI previously operated the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park near Cleveland, but it has since been rebranded as an MGM property, now making JACK Cincinnati Casino the sole HRI presence in Ohio.

“Hard Rock has been the No. 1 operator in Ohio since opening in the greater Cleveland market in 2013,” Jim Allen, chairman and CEO of HRI said in a statement. “And now, we look forward to introducing our unique brand of casino entertainment to Cincinnati.”

Allen said JACK Cincinnati Casino, which first opened in 2013, employs about 1,000. There are about 40,000 Hard Rock employees worldwide.

The facility is located on 22 acres in the Broadway Commons area in the city’s downtown district. It features 100,000 square feet of gaming space with about 1,800 gaming machines and 100 table games. Additionally, the property has 33,000 square feet of meeting space, six restaurants and two bars.

HRI officials said new property improvements will be announced later this year.

“We are confident that Hard Rock and its world-renowned brand will be a great addition to the Queen City and the right choice to take JACK Cincinnati Casino and Turfway Park to the next level of growth,” Matt Cullen, CEO of JACK Entertainment said in a statement. “We chose to sell to Hard Rock, in large part due to its great culture and quality of its leadership. They are an outstanding operator that JACK Cincinnati Casino and Turfway Park team members will enjoy working with as they continue to deliver excellent service to our guests.”

JACK Entertainment said it will continue to operate its JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Thistledown Racino, near Cleveland.
Meanwhile, VICI’s portfolio includes gaming, hospitality and entertainment destinations, including Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

“We are proud to partner with Hard Rock, further diversifying our tenant roster with an international leader in gaming, entertainment and hospitality experiences and a renowned global platform of 245 hospitality venues across 75 countries,”

John Payne, president and chief operating officer of VICI said in a statement.
While the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions, HRI officials expect it to be finalized later this year.

HRI operates 185 cafes, 27 hotels and 11 casinos. The company’s two most successful hotel and casino properties are in Hollywood (Florida) and Tampa. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the parent entity of HRI.

More information is available at hardrock.com.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a staff reporter for The Seminole Tribune. Prior to moving to Florida, he was a reporter and editor for print and digital publications in his home state of New Mexico. When Damon’s not working on a story, you’ll probably find him at a hot yoga class or splashing around on some South Florida beach. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.

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