U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 47 mins

Eldorado Resorts, Caesars Entertainment casino companies to merge

Nathan Bomey

Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment announced a merger Monday that brings together two large casino operators that will compete with the likes of MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts.

Eldorado agreed to acquire Caesars in a cash-and-stock deal worth about $17.3 billion when including the assumption of debt.

The new company will be called Caesars, will be based in Reno and will be traded on the Nasdaq.

The deal comes less than two years after Las Vegas-based Caesars survived Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It also comes after activist investor Carl Icahn had accumulated a stake of about 16% in Caesars and pushed for the company's sale.

“Eldorado’s combination with Caesars will create the largest owner and operator of U.S. gaming assets and is a strategically, financially and operationally compelling opportunity that brings immediate and long-term value to stakeholders of both companies," Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg said in a statement. "Together, we will have an extremely powerful suite of iconic gaming and entertainment brands, as well as valuable strategic alliances with industry leaders in sports betting and online gaming."

Sports gambling: Why sports betting hasn't gone nationwide yet after Supreme Court ruling

Which state gambles the most?: Nevada is tops, but what's the lottery, casino tab in other states?

Caesars operates several brands, including Harrah's, Caesars and Horseshoe, with 34 casinos and resorts containing more than 39,000 hotel rooms, about 48,000 slot machines and some 3,000 table games.

Eldorado Resorts operates 26 properties in 12 states, including Tropicana in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Eldorado in Reno, Nevada, with more than 12,000 hotel rooms, about 23,000 slot machines and 650 table games.

The companies billed their deal as a way to diversify their businesses and cut excess costs.

Eldorado shareholders will get 51% of the company, while Caesars shareholders will get 49%.

Icahn hailed the deal on Monday: "While I criticized the Caesars Board when I took a major position several months ago, I would now like to do something that I rarely do, which is to praise a board of directors for acting responsibly and decisively in negotiating and approving this transformational transaction."

As part of the arrangement, Eldorado agreed to a deal with VICI Properties to exchange various assets. Part of the deal: Eldorado is selling the real estate associated with Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, Harrah's Laughlin Hotel & Casino and Harrah's New Orleans Hotel & Casino for about $1.8 billion to VICI. The company will lease the properties from VICI for about $154 million a year.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter: @NathanBomey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eldorado Resorts, Caesars Entertainment casino companies to merge