Penn National acquires Harrah’s St. Louis for $610 million

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Penn National Gaming agreed to acquire Harrah’s St. Louis from Caesars Entertainment for $610 million and the deal is expected to close this year, subject to regulatory approval.

It might surprise some, but St. Louis ranks as the sixth largest U.S. casino market with $1.1 billion in revenue.This puts it well ahead of Tunica and Reno.

Missouri has limited the number of casino licenses to 13.Purchasing an existing property is Penn National’s only option for expansion in Missouri. Latest monthly reports show the Harrah’s St. Louis property as the highest revenue producer with $24.1 million out of the $94.3 million market total.

Penn National will use its Hollywood brand and remodel to “invoke the glamour of 1930s art deco Hollywood,” Penn National CEO Peter M. Carlino said.The remodeling expense will involve “tens of millions” of dollars, Penn spokesman Joe Jaffoni said.

Penn National has a small presence in the St. Louis market with the Argosy in Alton, Ill., and already is licensed by the Missouri Gaming Commission for the Argosy Riverside property in the Kansas City market.

There is no word on what this will mean for the poker room at Harrah’s St. Louis, which recently hosted a World Series of Poker Circuit stop.

— Don Matusofsky is Ante Up’s Missouri Ambassador. Email him at anteupdonm@gmail.com.