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Caesars Soars on Online Gambling Hopes, Vegas Revenue Jump

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Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Caesars Entertainment Corp., the largest owner of U.S. casinos, gained the most since its first day of trading as Las Vegas Strip revenue rose and New Jersey moved closer to allowing bets online.

Caesars, controlled by Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Capital LP, advanced 38 percent to $13.91 at the close in New York. That was the best rise since the Las Vegas-based company almost doubled on Feb. 8, 2012. Boyd Gaming Corp., co-owner of the Borgata in Atlantic City, leapt 10 percent.

Caesars jumped 78 percent this week. The shares rose 19 percent yesterday after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he’s willing to allow a 10-year trial of online gambling in Atlantic City, where Caesars has four casinos. The stock added 12 percent on Feb. 4, when the company said it may raise money by selling a stake in its online operation and two properties.

Gambling on the Las Vegas Strip, where the company operates Caesars Palace, Harrah’s and other properties, increased 13 percent in December to $588.2 million, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said today in a statement. That marked an acceleration from previous months, with revenue from July to year-end advancing 5.1 percent, the agency said.

Christie requested only minor changes to the online gambling bill, which should pass both houses of the legislature in the next month, according to Senator Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat from Elizabeth who sponsored the measure.

September Start?

That would pave the way for casino operators to begin taking online bets from state residents by September.

Internet gambling could generate as much as $210 million in revenue for Caesars and $84 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to Susan Berliner, an analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities.

The New Jersey legislation could also lead other states or the federal government to adopt online gambling rules, Berliner said in a report yesterday.

European online gaming stocks also rose on the New Jersey news, with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc up 16 percent and 888 Holdings Plc gaining 17 percent in London to its highest in more than four years. 888 has a software licensing agreement with Caesars.

Caesars went public a year ago by selling 2.1 million shares at $9 each, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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