A cash-strapped division of casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. said early Thursday that it filed for bankruptcy protection in Chicago, hoping the court agrees to its plan to get out from under $18.4 billion of debt. The division Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. owns and operates most of Caesars' 50 properties worldwide. Caesars CEO Gary Loveman said in a statement to announce the filing that its casino-hotels would remain open and continue to host meetings and events, assuring customers that their loyalty points would still accrue and the company's lineup of on-stage entertainers would keep performing according to their schedules. Company officials say they intend to continue paying its suppliers in full. The bankruptcy filing doesn't apply to parent company Caesars Entertainment Corp. and affiliated companies Caesars Growth Partners and Caesars Entertainment Resort Properties. The filing from Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. in a Chicago bankruptcy court came as no surprise. The company has been weighed down by sizable debt ever since Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Capital LP and other investors bought the casino giant in January 2008 for $30.7 billion using $6.1 billion of their own cash and paying for the rest with $24.7 billion in debt.
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--- The Associated Press