Dan Gilbert sells Cleveland on line casino pursuits; JACK Leisure stays operator

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who led a successful 2009 election campaign to legalize casino gambling in Ohio, has acquired a stake in JACK Entertainment, the operator of the downtown Cleveland casino and Thistledown Racino in the North Randall suburb, tacitly sold.

Dan Gilbert’s corporate family is no longer affiliated with JACK Entertainment, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Casino Control Commission said on Wednesday.

Changes of ownership trigger new licenses through the commission. The commission approved a new license for JACK Entertainment in July, although the changes may have occurred months later.

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 Gilbert’s profile is no longer active on the JACK Entertainment website.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

In a statement published in the Cleveland Jewish NewsCullen said, “As of December 2020, JACK Entertainment has changed ownership and is no longer affiliated with Dan Gilbert’s corporate family.”

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

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

In May 2012, the Cleveland Casino was the first to open in Ohio, originally as a partnership between the Gilbert Company and Caesars. It was originally operated under the name Horseshoe. The same partnership opened the Cincinnati Horseshoe Casino in March 2013. Both later became JACK Casinos under the newly formed JACK Entertainment.

JACK Entertainment announced a $ 843 million sale / leaseback agreement with VICI Properties Real Estate Trust in October 2019 for the JACK casino in downtown Cleveland and the suburb of Thistledown Racino. The Deal closed on January 24, 2020. The properties under the leasing agreement will continue to be operated by JACK Entertainment under the JACK brand.

Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, formerly a JACK property, is now owned by VICI. Sale leasebacks are widespread in the casino industry. VICI’s property includes facilities operating under the Caesars, Hard Rock and Penn National names.

Follow the casino reporting below cleveland.com/casino.

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