Tilman Fertitta Interested in Golden Nugget-Caesars Merger

Caesars Golden Nugget Merger - Tilman Fertitta Caesars

Tilman Fertitta, who owned an expanding restaurant empire at the time, bought the Golden Nugget properties in 2005.

Shares of Caesars Entertainment (CZR) rose 6.9% and caused a halt for a volatility pause after Reuters reported Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta has approached the Las Vegas casino company about a merger with Fertitta’s own casino brand, Golden Nugget.

Under Fertitta’s plan, Caesars Entertainment would be the acquirer of Golden Nugget in a reverse merger scenario. The huge private equity firms that own Caesars Entertainment, Apollo Global Management and TPG Capital, would still own a significant share of the casino giant the merger would create.

The full details of the merger are not known, but when news spread that TilmanĀ Fertitta was interested in Caesars Entertainment led to a huge increase in the company’s stock.

Tilman Fertitta, Landry’s, and Golden Nugget have a huge reputation for success. With Caesars holding the possibility of a foray into the Japanese casino market and the UAE’s non-gaming resort sector, suddenly Caesars Entertainment looks like a good investment.

About Tilman Fertitta

Tilman Fertitta is the sole owner of Landry’s, a restaurant giant which owns brands like Saltgreass Steakhouse, Joe’s Crab Shack, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Claim Jumper, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex Cafe, McCormick & Schmick’s, and Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse.

Fertitta opened Landry’s Seafood in 1980. The casual seafood restaurant now has 20 locations in 8 states. As his original restaurant chain grew, Tilman Fertitta bought or founded many other restaurant brands, so Landry’s has grown it into one of America’s largest restaurant companies.

Houston Rockets Owner

Since 2017, Tilman Fertitta also owns the Houston Rockets. Mr. Fertitta promised the NBA his Golden Nugget casino sportsbooks would not take bets on Houston Rockets games or propositions. The NBA cleared the way for Fertitta’s inclusion among its owners.

In 2005, Tilman Fertitta, who is a distant cousin of the Fertitta Brothers (Station Casinos, UFC), bought the Golden Nugget casino company. These days, Golden Nugget casinos are located in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Biloxi, Laughlin, and Lake Charles.

The Golden Nugget Las Vegas is located on on the Fremont Street Experience. It is the largest casino in Downtown Las Vegas, with nearly 2,500 hotel rooms. Beyond the casinos and restaurant chains, Landry’s owns skyscrapers, hotels, car dealerships, boardwalks, piers, aquariums, and cruise ships.

Caesars Entertainment Profile

Caesars Entertainment is the largest single owner of land-based casinos in the United States, with over 50 properties in over a dozen US states. Caesars is known for Caesars Palace and the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, but it also owns the Harrah’s, Bally’s, and Horseshoe casino brands. Caesars owns casinos in the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, and Egypt, while it is also building a non-gaming resort in the United Arab Emirates.

The company came from a takeover by Harrah’s Entertainment of the Caesars company in 2007. The leveraged buyout by Apollo Global Management, TPG Capital, and other private equity firms led to the name change to Caesars Entertainment. It also led to a $30 billion in debt in the runup to the Global Recession.

CEOC Bankruptcy Fight

Saddled with huge debt, Caesars Entertainment long was thought to be headed towards bankruptcy. By 2015, Caesars had bought the debt down to around $23 billion. Most of that burden was transferred to a subdivision called Caesars Entertainment Operations Corporation (CEOC), which then declared bankruptcy.

That led to a 2-year court battle with junior shareholders, which eventually ended last year with a $5 billion deal. Caesars Entertainment now is free of the clouds of bankruptcy, but it could use capital for major overseas expansion. Caesars wants to compete for a Japanese casino license.