JACK Administration takes possession of firm’s Ohio casinos

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JACK Entertainment and Dan Gilbert are no longer synonymous. Gilbert has sold his interest in the casino company to its management team, a move that has already proven to be beneficial to the new owners. The sale was reportedly completed last month, but only now has come to the surface. No details were included about how much money changed hands in the acquisition. 

Gilbert has been involved in a lot of businesses over the years and was largely responsible for Ohio’s casino market. In addition to having founded Quicken Loans, of which he is still the chairman, he is the founder and chairman of the Rock Family of Companies and the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. JACK Entertainment reported operates a total of 150,000 square feet of gaming space that pulls down between $400 million and $500 million each year in revenue. 

Ohio first saw casinos in 2012, three years after voters signed off on a ballot measure to alter the state’s constitution to allow casino gambling. That venue, the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, was launched by Gilbert in collaboration with Caesars, and he followed it up with a second property, Jack Thistledown Racino, the following year. Both were sold two years ago for $843 million. 

Going forward, JACK’s management team will oversee the JACK Cleveland Casino downtown and JACK Thistledown Racino in North Randall in Ohio. The latter works under a lease-back deal with real estate investment trust VICI Properties, and JACK Entertainment chairman Matthew P. Cullen explains, “The JACK management team, who have been with the company since its inception, remains in place and now owns the controlling interest of the company.” He adds, “Over the past year, JACK has relocated its home office team to be headquartered in Cleveland, making JACK the only Ohio-based gaming operator across the state’s 11 gaming properties. This hands-on leadership positions the company well for future growth and as always, the JACK team will remain focused on operating our gaming properties at the highest standards to prioritize the health, safety and enjoyment of our guests and team members.”

Ohio has four casinos and seven racinos and the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on all of them last year. However, as 2020 began to come to a close, they started to rebound and welcomed the new year with slight gains. Combined, the gambling properties reported $1.44 billion in revenue last year, a drop of 26% over the prior year’s performance. In December, things picked up and they reported a month-over-month improvement of 0.6%, with JACK Cleveland reporting $13.25 million in revenue for the month.