Harrah’s Entertainment said July 28 it has completed its purchase of Thistledown near Cleveland, Ohio, from MI Developments.
Harrah’s, which has other racetrack holdings in the United States, purchased Thistledown for about $43 million at auction in May. In 2009, the gaming company obtained an option to buy the track for $89.5 million, but the option had expired.
Harrah’s is expected to be involved in operation of at least one full-scale casino in Ohio. Four such casinos were authorized in a 2009 statewide referendum.
No immediate changes are expected at Thistledown, which will host the grade III Ohio Derby July 31. The track could be in line for video lottery terminals pending a court ruling.
The purchase of Thistledown is considered largely strategic, though Harrah’s indicated a desire to continue live racing.
“With this acquisition, Harrah's Entertainment looks forward to enhancing the guest experience at Thistledown--through continuing the long history of Thoroughbred racing and providing our support for the Ohio Lottery’s efforts to bring video lottery terminals to the track,” Peter Murphy, president of strategy and development for Harrah’s, said in a statement. “Harrah’s has a long history of maintaining high standards in the gaming industry. We look forward to continuing our commitment to our guests, employees, and the community in this new Cleveland operation.”
Thistledown is the second Ohio track to be sold this year. Penn National Gaming Inc., which plans to build casinos in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio, purchased Beulah Park.