A few years ago, Ohio became home to four destinations casinos, delivering a wide range of wagering amusements like slot machines, blackjack and video poker to local and visiting gamblers. Caesars Entertainment was a major player in that movement, lending its famous ‘Horseshoe’ name to properties in Cincinnati and Cleveland. But big changes are on the horizon, and slot machines maker Scientific Games plans to be a big part of it.
The story dates back to 2009, when voters in Ohio approved a constitutional amendment to build casinos in the state’s four largest cities; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. Caesars Entertainment joined up with Rock Gaming owner Dan Gilbert to form Rock Ohio Caesars, obtaining licenses to build Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati. The casinos opened in May 2012 and March 2013 respectively.
The team of Gaming & Leisure Properties and Penn National Gaming acquired the other two licenses, developing Hollywood Casino Toledo (March 2012) and Hollywood Casino Columbus (May 2012).
The industry has brought in a fair share of revenue for the state, but due to an immediate saturation of the market, they haven’t exactly thrived. In the same token, Caesars Entertainment – with flagging properties all over the world – has found itself bearing the weight of more debt that it can hold.
When you combine these two factors, the end result was the Las Vegas-based company’s decision to allow Rock Gaming owner Dan Gilbert to acquire Caesars’ 20% stake last year.
With that done, Gilbert decided to rebrand Rock Gaming as Jack Entertainment LLC, and has announced the company’s intentions to remove the Horseshoe name from its Ohio casino locations. As of June 2016, the properties will bear the new names, Jack Casino Cincinnati and Jack Casino Cleveland.
The company will also rebrand its ThistleDown Racino in North Randall, OH to Jack ThistleDown Racetrack. Gilbert’s Greektown Casino, located in his home-office territory of Detroit, will also be renamed Jack Detroit Casino Hotel Greektown.
You Don’t Know Jack… Yet
Why the name Jack, you ask? The company’s CEO, Matt Cullen, explained in a conference call two weeks ago, “The name Jack is meant to convey youth, excitement and spontaneity.” The Detroit Press said he described it as, “the voice that’s on your shoulder saying, ‘Let’s go have some fun.’”
As for the new management systems, slot machines and even talk of building an on-site hotel at the Cincinnati location, “We don’t go into these businesses to stand pat or be caretakers,” said Cullen.
“We want to continue to grow and provide opportunities for our team members and guests,” the CEO explained. “So, we’re going to keep our eyes open and make investments where it makes sense to achieve those goals.”
Great News for Scientific Games
Scientific Games secured a contract with Jack (for an undisclosed amount), to install all new casino management systems, as well as a few hundred new slot machines, at Jack Entertainment’s three Ohio locations. The installations are slated for completion by June; the same timeline for the rebranding to go into effect.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Chad Benyon, a gaming analyst with Macquarie Securities, estimated the software firm’s systems contract to be worth $16-$20 million. Benyon gave the slot machines, which will produce revenue on a shared basis for Scientific Games, an estimated value of $1.5 million annually.