The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will be taking home half of Caesars Southern Indiana Casino’s profits after a profit-sharing policy change.
The tribe has owned the property for a few years, but Caesars has been operating the Indiana casino on its behalf.
Caesars Southern Indiana profit sharing
The EBCI took over ownership of Caesars Southern in August 2021. The $250 million deal allowed Caesars Entertainment to retain “Caesars” in the name and branding. The loyalty program and Caesars Sportsbook also remained.
At the time of the sale, the tribe created EBCI Holdings to manage its commercial gaming business. It was agreed that 25% of casino revenue would be paid annually by EBCI Holdings to the tribal government.
The percentage jumped to 50% after the tribe made it an official policy. The tribal government said the extra funds would go toward necessities, such as paying for health care in the tribal community.
EBCI Holdings active in other major projects in the US
All casino gambling in Indiana must take place at a physical casino. Legislation to allow Indiana online casinos died in a legislative committee Feb. 21.
Buying Caesars Southern Indiana was EBCI Holding’s first major venture. Several more have followed since the summer of 2021.
Last August, EBCI broke ground on a $650 million Virginia casino project in partnership with Caesars. EBCI and Caesars each hold 49.5% ownership, with another business owner holding the remaining 1%.
In November, the company bought a 49% stake in a $55 million horse racetrack near Ashland, Ky. Both projects are due to go live in 2024.
EBCI will also invest up to $12 million in gaming-related technology.
EBCI’s plans to tap into hospitality industry put on hold
EBCI Holdings wants to also invest in the hospitality industry. Ventures could include retail, dining and entertainment.
However, the idea was put on ice after tribal council members said it would create a conflict between EBCI and Kituwah LLC, a tribal-owned company with investments in hospitality. The tribe’s attorney general, Mike McConnell, agreed that EBCI should focus only on gaming for now.
“At the very beginning of the attempt to stand up EBCI Holdings LLC to pursue commercial gaming, I think the understanding was gaming is inextricably tied to hospitality,” McConnell said, according to Smoky Mountain News. “I think it’s rare to see a casino that doesn’t have, say, a hotel associated with it or restaurants in it. Those are all hospitality measures. If the concern is that EBCI Holdings is going to encroach on Kituwah LLC’s ballpark, we don’t want to do that.”
The tribe might not have other large hospitality projects on the horizon, but the increase in profits from Caesars Southern will still help fund whatever comes next for the EBCI.