A lot of changes are coming to Caesars Entertainment this year, and some, if implemented, may not be welcomed by guests. The casino operator reportedly just met with Deutsche Bank analysts to get a different perspective on its short- and long-term movements, and the results, according to CDC Gaming Reports, might lead the company in a slightly different direction than where it has traditionally been headed. More property sales and even higher room rates could be coming later this year.
Caesars Undergoing a Shift in Operations
The meeting reportedly took place in New York between Caesars’ brass and analysts with the financial institution. It is said that CEO Tom Reeg is targeting the sale of some assets, but wants to wait until the market gains strength following the COVID-19 pandemic. Deutsche Bank doesn’t believe that waiting is necessary, and analyst Carlo Santarelli told the executives that, due to increased interest in ownership of properties on the Las Vegas Strip, Caesars could start to consider offers this year.
Caesars has already made several key changes to its portfolio, including the recent sale of its Tropicana Evansville property to Bally’s Corp. (formerly Twin River when the purchase was first announced) for $480 million. It is also in the process of closing a sale on two other properties, Harrah’s Southern Indiana and Louisiana Downs, for a combined $266 million, which will give it additional flexibility moving forward.
While Caesars is beginning to see some of its properties recover from COVID-19, others, such as those in Pennsylvania and Atlantic City, suffer from “lingering softness” that is impacting the company’s bottom line. Santarelli sees double-digit growth coming to the Strip, which will help offset that softness, and told Caesars executives that they can gain even more ground more quickly if it considers raising its room rates at Harrah’s Las Vegas and The Linq. While any increase would certainly not be welcome by Vegas visitors, there’s no indication that Caesars, which has also begun to focus on food and beverage services to increase revenue, might follow the advice. Another analyst, Joseph Greff with JP Morgan, points out that Caesars’ average room rates for June 27-July 3 are 36% lower during the week, but 23% higher on the weekend.
Caesars Ready for William Hill Sale
Caesars is closing in on a sale of its non-US William Hill assets. The company purchased the sports gambling operator for $3.7 billion in April, always with the intention of finding a buyer, or buyers, for all operations outside the US. Reeg is optimistic that a deal can be finalized by the end of the year, which will help cover much of the acquisition costs associated with the purchase. Caesars has said that it expects to sell the assets for as much as $2 billion, and Santarelli points out that the company will be able to benefit from at least $1 billion free and clear on top of the $1.5 billion in William Hill debt that would be retired as the result of a sale.
In addition to revamping its operations across the board, unloading certain gaming properties and selling William Hill assets, Caesars has another item on its list. It, like most gaming operators who have seen the future, is dedicating more resources to the iGaming space, a segment that is expected to grow globally at a CAGR of around 8.5% over the next five years. Online casinos and online sports gambling, which could be worth $15 billion by 2025 and twice that five years after, are receiving a lot more attention, and Caesars are ready to capitalize on the growth. Santarelli doesn’t believe the attention will provide the operator with a significant boost in the short-term, but adds that the “market share gains for [Caesars] during the NFL season” will “serve as a positive catalyst for [company] shares.”