LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Harrah's Entertainment Inc. is buying Horseshoe Gaming Holding Co., owner of casinos in Louisiana, Mississippi and Indiana, for $917 million.

The Las Vegas-based gambling giant said Thursday it will also assume $533 million in debt in the deal for the privately held Horseshoe, which is based in Tinley Park, Ill.

Harrah's chief executive Gary Loveman said the deal provides ``immediate growth and opportunity for our company and our customers.''

Loveman said Harrah's intends to keep the Horseshoe names at Horseshoe Gaming casinos in Bossier City, La., Hammond, Ind., and Tunica, Miss.

The sale is subject to approval by gambling commissions in Louisiana, Mississippi and Indiana and federal regulatory clearance.

Citing what he called ``overexposure'' in the Louisiana market, Loveman said Harrah's will sell its Shreveport casino, but said no deal had been reached. Selling that casino would leave Harrah's with a Horseshoe casino and its Louisiana Downs racetrack in Bossier City and it could allay antitrust concerns.

Horseshoe Gaming was founded by Jack Binion, who is chairman. He is the son of Benny Binion, founder of Binion's Horseshoe hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas, which is now owned by Becky Binion Behnen. That hotel-casino is not part of Thursday's deal.

Loveman said Harrah's was negotiating with Behnen to obtain the rights to the Horseshoe name in Nevada. A telephone message left for Behnen was not immediately returned.

Roger Wagner, Horseshoe Gaming president and chief executive, said in a telephone interview from Hammond that while Harrah's relies on slot machine customers, Horseshoe Gaming aims to attract serious gamblers who ``can come and enjoy themselves without apology.''

The Harrah's-Horseshoe Gaming transaction should be completed in the first quarter of 2004, Loveman said.

Under the agreement, Jack Binion would remain involved with Horseshoe marketing and operations for an unspecified time. Loveman said Binion will not have a contract or title with Harrah's. Telephone messages left for Binion were not immediately returned.

Loveman said he expected most of the 4,000 or more employees at Horseshoe casinos would be needed for the corporate changeover.

Harrah's operates 26 casinos in 12 states, including Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana and the riverboat markets of the Midwest.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Harrah's shares rose $1.08, or 2.7 percent, to $40.95.

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On the Net:

Harrah's Entertainment Inc.: http://www.harrahs.com

Horseshoe Gaming: http://www.horseshoe.com