Dan Gilbert selling Greektown Casino-Hotel for $1 billion

Posted on November 14, 2018

*Photo credit: Costar Inc.

Businessman Dan Gilbert has reached an agreement to sell his Greektown Casino in Detroit for $1 billion.

The buyers are two casino-related firms: Penn National Gaming, a casino operator that owns and operates dozens of gaming facilities across the United States, including those in Toledo and Columbus, and VICI Properties, a publicly traded real estate investment trust active in gaming, hospitality and entertainment.

In a phone interview Tuesday night with the Free Press, Gilbert said the sale is only for Greektown Casino and not his other gaming properties, including casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Even with $400 million in debt on Greektown Casino, the sale will allow Gilbert to deploy hundreds of millions of dollars into his many other projects.

Gilbert said he’ll put the money to use in Detroit.

“It frees up significant capital to invest in our large developments that we’ve started and some are about to start soon,” he said. “We’re going to focus on business development and technology, start-up scene in Detroit and things like StockX and other exciting businesses that will create jobs and excitement and attract people to the city from all over.”

Gilbert said he expected the sale to close in 2019 after regulatory review at various levels.

“These deals have significant regulatory hurdles,” he said. “We don’t foresee or expect significant issues, if any, but you never know in this world.”

Gilbert and his partners bought Greektown Casino in early 2013 when it had been through a bankruptcy reorganization. Since then, his team has invested significant money in the property, which also has benefited from the rapidly revitalizing downtown scene.

Asked about rumors that he might use proceeds from selling the casinos to buy the Detroit Tigers from the Iltich family, Gilbert said no such deal was in the works. He also declined to comment on a possible sale of his other casinos, as has also been rumored.

Located in downtown’s Greektown district, Greektown Casino-Hotel employs some 1,800 workers and features about 2,800 gaming machines, dozens of table games, a poker room, multiple bars and restaurants, and a 400-room hotel. It is one of downtown Detroit’s three casinos.

The sale marks the largest by Gilbert of any of the dozens of properties he and his partners acquired in downtown Detroit after he moved his Quicken Loans headquarters downtown in 2010.

Among other uses for the cash from the sale, Gilbert could put the money into his Hudson’s site development, now in its early construction stage, or in other projects he has in planning, including a major redevelopment of the Monroe Block east of Campus Martius Park or his development on the former Wayne County jail site off Gratiot north of Greektown Casino.