Horseshoe Casino parent to pay $200,000 fine over failure to disclose financing details

Fine is biggest levied to date by Ohio regulators

COLUMBUS - The parent company of Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati will pay a $200,000 fine for failing to disclose details related to a financing transaction last fall.

The fine is the largest imposed to date by the Ohio Casino Control Commission. It comes three months after a member of the commission criticized the company for being less than transparent about debt restructuring at Caesars Entertainment Corp., a 20 percent owner of the Horseshoe property.

Caesars is a partner in casino owner Rock Ohio Caesars LLC, a joint venture between Rock Gaming, the casino development companies owned by Detroit billionaire Dan Gilbert, and Caesars Entertainment. Caesars  has been working for months to restructure a massive debt of $23 billion.

The financing issue that led to the fine had nothing to do with Caesars Entertainment. Instead, it involved a financing transaction for the purchase of furniture, fixtures and equipment at Horseshoe properties in Ohio. After Ohio regulators approved the transaction, ROC Finance LLC never closed on the deal. It later pursued a different financing arrangement without informing Ohio regulators.

"For us to be able to do our job, we have to have complete transparency by those we regulate," said Matt Schuler, executive director of the Casino Control Commission. "There was no issue with their financial stability. The issue was not reporting to the commission that they failed to close on a transaction."

Former Cleveland-area Congressman Martin Hoke criticized Rock Ohio Caesars in May for its disclosures related to the debt load of Caesars Entertainment.

“It’s all confusing,” said Hoke, a member of the Casino Control Commission since 2011. “It’s so confusing as to raise reasonable questions in the minds of reasonable people that it’s intended to be confusing to create opaqueness rather than clarity.”

Ohio’s settlement with Rock Ohio Caesars requires the company to correct its internal procedures on debt transactions and ensure that all employees involved in such procedures are properly trained.

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