CNE Gaming Holdings to manage Mississippi casino resort

Oklahoma-based CNE Gaming Holdings, an indirect subsidiary of Cherokee Nation Businesses, has assumed operations of the Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, Miss., after receiving approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

The company purchased the resort's operating company from Mandalay Resort Group, a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International, for approximately $450 million in cash. The Mississippi Gaming Commission issued its determination of suitability and approval of the acquisition in January. Concurrent with the purchase, the operating entity entered into a long-term lease agreement with GSCR Propco, a subsidiary of VICI Properties, which owns the real property associated with Gold Strike Casino Resort.

Initial total annual rent under the lease is $40 million and the lease has an initial term of 25-years with three 10-year tenant renewal options. Annual base rent payments under VICI’s master lease with MGM Resorts International have been reduced by $40 million to a total of $730 million to account for MGM’s divestiture of the operations of Gold Strike.

“This acquisition is a natural evolution for our company. Building our business outside of Oklahoma is a huge step that strengthens our ability to boost the Cherokee Nation economy while also building on our reputation of being a strong community partner and industry leader,” Chuck Garrett, president and CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to sharing that commitment with the people of Mississippi by also investing in their communities and contributing to the local economy.”

Gold Strike Casino Resort will keep its Chicago Steakhouse, Buffet Americana and Sweet Tea dining venues as well as more than 1,100 guestrooms, a theater and a sportsbook. Current and future guest reservations at the Gold Strike property are being honored, and more than 1,100 team members were retained.

CBRE Securities served as exclusive strategic and financial advisor to Cherokee Nation Businesses in connection with the transaction. Latham & Watkins, along with Scale, served as legal advisors, and Jones Walker served as special gaming counsel.

Gold Strike Casino Resort is located on the Mississippi River, approximately 30 minutes from downtown Memphis, Tenn.