Gambling stocks have been on fire since March’s novel coronavirus crash. When the pandemic first hit, investors feared the worst for the gaming sector. But, with social distancing having less impact than expected — along with the continued sports-betting megatrend — names in this industry made a tremendous recovery.
However, as Covid-19 cases begin to surge once again, will gaming stocks give up some of their luck? Or, with the possibility of a vaccine just around the corner, does this winning sector still have room to run?
All bets are off. Although a vaccine could help put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, these next few months could bring a second round of lockdowns that hurt this industry significantly.
That being said, there may still be an opportunity here. Investors can buy online-based names in anticipation of more lockdowns, or snatch up the land-based names as their share prices potentially pull back in the near-term.
So, which gambling stocks should you consider? Keep these names on your watchlist:
- Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR)
- DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG)
- Landcadia Holdings II (NASDAQ:LCA)
- Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS)
- MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM)
Gambling Stocks to Buy: Caesars Entertainment (CZR)
First on my list of gambling stocks is the new Caesars Entertainment. As InvestorPlace contributor Vince Martin noted on Nov. 6, this company is the post-merge name after Eldorado Resorts acquired the gambling giant earlier this year.
While that deal may have looked ill-timed in hindsight, it could still pay off for investors. Given that the company took on significant debt to acquire its larger rival — thanks to the high leverage — an ounce of improvement could put a lot of points into CZR stock in the coming years.
Sure, with Nevada responding to the outbreak surge by reducing capacity in casinos down to 25%, investors could also be in for another bumpy ride.
But a return to normal for land-based casinos isn’t the only catalyst for CZR stock. If its pending deal to buy William Hill (OTCMKTS:WIMHY) closes, this company could quickly catch up to its rivals like MGM and Penn National (NASDAQ:PENN).
So, what’s the call? After bouncing back close to its pre-pandemic price levels, we could see Caesars sell off once again. But — given the factors in its favor — you should consider any weakness as a buying opportunity.
Profitability may be years away for DraftKings, my next pick of the gambling stocks. What’s more, at today’s valuation, much of its potential is already priced into the shares. However, there may still be a bull case for investing in DKNG stock at today’s price of around $48.
Why should you consider buying DraftKings now? Firstly, because of the continued sports-betting legalization wave. As more states legalize online sportsbooks, this first mover in the industry is poised to gain significant market share in the coming years.
Of course, the company’s first mover status doesn’t guarantee its domination in the industry. Not only does DraftKings face competition from land-based casinos, it’s also competing against global wagering giants like Flutter Entertainment (OTCMKTS:PDYPY) and Pointsbet Holdings (OTCMKTS:PBTHF).
But while DraftKings is far from the only game in town, it doesn’t have to crush the competition in order to crush it in the growth department. As seen in the company’s recent earnings report, DKNG continues to exceed Wall Street expectations.
Bottom line? At first glance, it may look like shares have gotten ahead of themselves, but this stock could continue climbing both in the near- and long-term.
Landcadia Holdings II (LCA)
In recent weeks, investors have had mixed feelings about this special acquisition company (SPAC). Lancadia is set to complete its deal with Golden Nugget Online Gaming (owned by Fertitta Entertainment) soon. And, while’s there’s a bull case to be made, it’s understandable why some are concerned this iGaming play will fail to live up to expectations.
Sure, it’s questionable whether this company — which has done well in the New Jersey market — can find the same levels of success in other states. On top of that, the suspected motivations behind the deal are also reason for concern with LCA stock. If billionaire Tilman Fertitta — the principal on both sides of the deal — is looking to cash out, do you really want to be buying in?
Nevertheless, risk-return is fully in your favor here, with today’s prices at around $16 per share. Yes, the shares are richly priced and could crash if speculation in online gambling stocks subsides. But — even if this company winds up with just a sliver of the market — that could be enough to send shares materially above where they are today.
Keep in mind, this is a high-risk, high-potential return opportunity. In other words, don’t bet the ranch. But with the potential to soar in the near future, consider it a cautious buy at current price levels.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS)
With most of its operations based in Macau, Las Vegas Sands was one of the first gambling stocks hit badly by the pandemic. However — with signs that the Chinese gaming market is starting to recover — there may be a great opportunity in this casino operator that has its fortunes largely tied to Asia.
Why? While both are diversified geographically, Caesars and MGM are still heavily bound to the health of Las Vegas. But Las Vegas Sands? Don’t let the name fool you — Vegas only made up less than 15% of its revenue in 2019.
As such, LVS stock was and is primarily a play on the health of Asia’s gambling sector. Sure, a Macau recovery is still a work-in-progress. But with China avoiding a second wave, gaming in that part of the world could continue to recover. On the other hand, in-person casinos in the United States are stumbling again as stringent lockdown and social distancing orders come back into effect.
What does this mean for LVS stock? Shares — which trade for at almost $57 today — could continue to climb back towards their pre-pandemic prices above $70. Tread carefully, but this name remains a buy after recovering more than 70% off its March lows.
MGM Resorts (MGM)
With Nevada cutting casino capacity on the heels of surging Covid-19 cases, now may not look like the time to dive into Vegas-centric casino names like MGM stock. However — while the upcoming winter could mean more tough times — any big selloff in the near-term may give you a solid entry point for a long-term position.
Why buy if shares take a dive? Shares may have prematurely rallied on the positive vaccine news earlier this month. But, while it may be a few months until the vaccine is readily available, the stock will likely bounce back as investors look to a full recovery in 2021.
Additionally, this land-based casino operator gives you solid exposure to the online gaming megatrend. The performance of BetMGM — the company’s online gambling joint venture with GVC Holdings (OTCMKTS:GMVHF) — has handily beat expectations.
Granted, this unit isn’t large enough yet to counter any near-term declines in MGM’s brick-and-mortar properties. But it could minimize how much this stock falls if the pandemic worsens during the winter.
Just a few dollars below its pre-pandemic prices, shares may not be a screaming buy right now at around $28. However, investors should consider this pick of the gambling stocks as a solid opportunity for future gains. In short, keep an eye out for any big pullback.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not (either directly or indirectly) hold any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
Thomas Niel, a contributor to InvestorPlace, has written single stock analysis since 2016.