Tropicana Casino Sold As Financial Crisis Hits Las Vegas

This week was packed with industry moves, much of it related to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on US cardrooms, with one Vegas casino being sold off and others warning of dire consequences should the shutdown last too long.

By: Andrew Burnett

Tropicana Las Vegas sold at a loss

We’ll start with the sale of the Tropicana Las Vegas casino, an iconic property that saw Frank Sinatra and his rat-pack hang out as well as provide a backdrop for scenes from The Godfather.

This week its owners, Penn National Gaming, sold the Vegas Strip casino at a knockdown price, going for $307.5 million -some $52.5 million less than it paid for the casino only 5 years ago.

CEO Jay Snowden said of the sale: “Penn National is a family, and we deeply regret the hardship this will place on you and your loved ones. We are extremely motivated and focused on reopening our properties as soon as it is safe and legal to do so.”

Penn National’s 26,000 workers, including those at the Tropicana and its other Vegas property, M Resort, have been furloughed in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown of Vegas.

Only months left for Vegas casinos

That leads us on nicely, or rather not so nicely, to the main reasons for Vegas’ casino woes – a lack of cash coming through the now-closed doors that could mean some have only a few months of sustainability.

MGM Resorts is reported to be losing more than $14million per day, while Penn National were facing $6.5million per day losses, hence the off-loading of the Tropicana.

A Macquarie Research report says that means only 9 months before MGM runs out of normal funds to operate, with Penn quoted at just over 5 months, according to CardPlayer magazine.

As we reported previously, all Vegas casinos are on shutdown until mid-April at least following Nevada Governor Steve Siselak’s order, much to the chagrin of Las Vegas’ mayor, Carolyn Goodman, who fears for the Vegas economy.

Nevada sportsbooks allowed to offer Counter-Strike ESL

A ray of sunshine amidst the doom and gloom was offered by news that sportsbooks could accept betting on some esports, with Counter-Strike ESL Pro League the latest to get the ok from regulators.

Esports are not classified as sporting events, but may be given the go-ahead as ‘other events’ on an ad hoc basis, similar to the WSOP being a wagerable event.

In-game betting will not be allowed, but general wagers on the outcome of matches is permissible, and the esports industry and gaming and gambling fans will be hoping that other favourites are added soon.

With traditional sports being cancelled and postponed until at least after the summer, established esports such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Dota and StarCraft could well fill the gap for many.

Adelson donates 2 million masks

In other news, the much-reviled figure, in online poker circles at least, of Sheldon Adelson has donated around 2 million masks in the fight against the coronavirus.

The Venetian owner has long campaigned against the ‘legalisation’ of online poker, but it will hard to condemn him for this week’s reports from the Jerusalem Post.

The newspaper reported that Adelson: “… bought the masks from China, and they are now on the way to hospitals in New York and Nevada. Some 250,000 units are designated to go to the Trump administration to assist health workers.”

WPT and partypoker team up for Online Series

We’ll finish off with another more uplifting story, one of good timing that has seen the WPT team up with partypoker to offer the WPT Online Series.

Two weeks of online battling will culminate in a Main Event on the red diamond site, the winner taking the WPT Champions Cup.

According to WPT CEO, Adam Pliska, it was more fortunate timing than any great planning that has allowed them to fill the gap left by the cancellation of all live tournaments.

"Did we devise it because of the quarantine? It was in the works. The timing worked out well. You quickly react to the market," Pliska told PokerNews this week.

He added: "I feel like online is a great opportunity for us to engage with new players. That intimidation factor is mitigated because you're at home."

You can find all the details for WPT Online Series on partypoker here.

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