Financially troubled Caesar's Entertainment Corporation has accepted a merger offer from rival Eldorado Resorts that will lead to the creation of a serious competitor to dominant casino industry players based in Las Vegas.

The deal includes cash and stock options and will be worth $18 billion in total.

The merger announcement comes more than three months after Eldorado and Caesar’s first said they were exploring a merger. The merger was forced on Caesar’s by investor Carl Icahn, who owns almost 100 million shares of Caesar’s equivalent to a 28.5 percent stake. Icahn has been pushing Caesar's board to sell the company.

The appointment of Anthony Rodio, an Icahn ally, as Caesar’s CEO last April ensured the sale to Eldorado would push through. Icahn has a seat on Caesar’s board.

The combined company’s ownership will be split between Eldorado and Caesars shareholders, according to sources cited by media. It will become a formidable competitor to heavyweights Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International. Both Eldorado and Caesar’s have refused to comment on news about the merger, however.

The deal is expected to be announced Monday. It values Caesars at close to $13 a share compared to the $9.99 per share at the close of the trading day on June 21. Friday’s closing was down 0.60 percent. Caesar’s has a market cap of $6.72 billion.

Caesar’s owns several properties, including Caesar’s Palace, Harrah’s, Horseshoe and Bally’s. It has 53 properties in 14 U.S. states and five countries outside the U.S. as of December 2018.

Caesar’s been seen as an acquisition target since the company filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Those rumors didn’t go away even after Caesars emerged from bankruptcy in 2017.

Talk of Caesar’s being sold reached fever pitch when Icahn increased his stake in the company and gained even more influence over it earlier this year.

The exterior of Harrah's Hotel & Casino is viewed at sunrise on February 3, 2019 in Laughlin, Nevada. Harrah's is owned by Caesar's Entertainment. George Rose/Getty Images

The acquisition of Caesar’s will be huge for Eldorado, which began life as a small family-owned business in Reno. Astute deals grew the company into one of the largest casino companies in the U.S. Eldorado either owns or operates 26 properties in 12 states.

Analysts said the deal will require the merged company to acquire additional debt. Eldorado is valued at $4 billion and has about $3 billion in debt. Caesars is worth $6 billion but its debt stands at $9 billion