State regulators Thursday approved the sale of the Hard Rock Casino in Sioux City to the company in Kentucky which runs the Kentucky Derby.
Racing and Gaming Administrator, Brian Ohorilk0 says the approval came after the Commission got a report on the Churchill Downs Incorporated background check. “The commission has been reviewing other documents, financing other paperwork, that was part of this transaction and subsequently approve this transaction,” he says. Churchill Downs announced in February the proposal to purchase the Hard Rock from Peninsula Pacific Entertainment for nearly two-point-five billion dollars.
Ohorilko says Virginia regulators have approved the sale and approval is still needed from New York. “So when the New York gaming Association ultimately reviews it, and if they were to approve it, then that is when this transaction would become final. And so that’s maybe expected to occur this fall,” according to Ohorilko.
Ohorilko says the Racing and Gaming Commission does not expect any big differences in operation when the sale is completed. “There were a number of questions regarding what to expect under new ownership. But Churchill Downs has indicated that they do not expect any changes in business as usual, in terms of the management team that is there,” Ohorilko says.
The Hard Rock name will also stay. “That was something that was part of this deal. And so that’s something that will remain in place, which means that the Hard Rock brand will remain in terms of all of the concerts that go along with that, that’s something that is expected,” he says. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment took over when the Sioux City casino in 2014 when it was moved from a riverboat to the land — and Ohorilko says it has been a success story.
“In terms of what can happen when there is a significant investment, strong amenities, and just that facility has truly become kind of a destination facility. And it does draw from a wider area than what maybe we see at some other facilities,” Ohorilko says. Churchill Downs also owns racetracks and an online wagering company.