Pure-Play REITs: Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI)
Famed investor Leon Cooperman sold his position in Penn National Gaming (PENN) in the fourth quarter of 2013, replacing it with a 2.2 million shares of GLPI, the real estate spinoff the casino operator took public through a 1-for-1 share distribution last November. Its first acquisition came one month later when it paid $140 million for a casino in East St. Louis. Pure-play REITs come in all shapes and sizes, but never before has there been one in the casino business.
And that’s just crazy, because we all know the casino business generates huge piles of cash.
PENN separated its gaming operations from the real estate in order to operate an asset-light business model. While the hospitality side of the casino business is all about glitz and glamour, nothing happens without big-time real estate. Don’t be surprised if other large casino operators choose to split their businesses. Will Las Vegas Sands (LVS) or Wynn Resorts (WYNN) do it? I doubt it. They run different establishments than PENN. However, anyone running casino operations in places outside Las Vegas or Macau might want to consider it — it just makes too much sense.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.