Dan Gilbert sells Cleveland casino interests; JACK Entertainment remains operator

Wednesday 20th January 2021

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who in 2009 led a successful voter effort to legalize casino gambling in Ohio, quietly has sold his ownership interest in JACK Entertainment, the operator of both downtown Cleveland's casino and the Thistledown Racino in suburban North Randall.

Dan Gilbert's family of companies are no longer affiliated with JACK Entertainment, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Casino Control Commission said Wednesday.

Changes in ownerships trigger new licenses through the commission. The commission in July approved a new license for JACK Entertainment, though the changes may have occurred months after that.

JACK Entertainment did not respond Wednesday to questions about the transaction. Gilbert's profile is no longer active on JACK Entertainment's website. Jack Cullen is now listed both as the chief executive officer and chairman of JACK Entertainment.

In a statement released to the Cleveland Jewish News, Cullen said, "As of December 2020, JACK Entertainment's ownership has changed and no longer has any affiliation with Dan Gilbert's family of companies."

Gilbert, who purchased the Cavs in 2005, suffered a stroke in 2019 and has made few public appearances since.

This is the latest of a series of ownership changes in the history of the Cleveland casino.

In May 2012, the Cleveland casino became the first to open in Ohio, originally as a partnership between Gilbert-related companies and Caesars. It initially operated under the Horseshoe name. The same partnership opened the Cincinnati Horseshoe Casino in March 2013. They both later became JACK casinos under the newly formed JACK Entertainment.

JACK Entertainment in October 2019 announced an $843 million sale/leaseback deal with VICI Properties real estate trust for JACK's downtown Cleveland casino and suburban Thistledown Racino. That deal closed on Jan. 24, 2020. The properties, under the lease arrangement, continue to be operated by JACK Entertainment under the JACK brand.

The Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, formerly a JACK property, is also now owned by VICI. Sale-leasebacks have become a common arrangement in the casino industry. VICI's ownership includes facilities operated under the Caesars, Hard Rock and Penn National names.

Follow casino coverage at cleveland.com/casino.

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