A newsletter distributed by Openings and Closings in Las Vegas included a warning about Caesars Entertainment in its latest edition, according to Vegasinc.com. The quote from the newsletter used in that article states:
In an abundance of caution, this newsletter advises you not to deposit any funds (deposits for hotel reservations, deposits in the cashier’s cage or not redeeming casino chips, etc.), in … Caesars hotels, until the situation at Caesars becomes clearer
It is possible the quote was taken out of context. The full newsletter is not available online. Regardless, it created waves in the investment community. Caesars Entertainment’s stock fell about 5% in the minutes after the Vegasinc.com article was published. The stock recovered some of its losses before the end of the trading session.
The rumors of a potential Caesars Entertainment bankruptcy are hardly new. The company carries debt in excess of $20 billion. What is new is this rumor that suggests that Caesars Entertainment might default on its obligations to customers.
Caesars Entertainment has a major debt obligation coming due in 2015. The amount potentially due is $4.4 billion, according to a number of sources. That does not mean that Caesars Entertainment will have to pay that cash when the debt matures. The company could refinance it, issue equity to lenders, or have a second stock offering. The company could also raise cash by selling some of its assets.
There have been no reports of default by Caesars Entertainment. A search of the company’s latest SEC filing shows no announcement of a credit default. It is also absent of any going concern warning from the company or its auditors.
The investment community does have some concerns with Caesars Entertainment. Moody’s lowered its rating on some of the company’s debt in April. That opinion does not create any immediate concerns for its customers.
Caesars Operations Produce Positive Cash Flow
Caesars Entertainment generated $125.3 million in revenue from operations after expenses in the Second Quarter of 2013, according to the company’s latest 10-Q filing with the SEC. The company ultimately posted a loss of $209.2 million, much of which can be attributed to the interest paid on its the debt. This makes it appear to me that there is a profitable company underneath all of the interest payments.
According to Caesars Entertainment’s 2Q 2013 10-Q, the company holds approximately $15.5 billion in property and equipment. This includes land, buildings, riverboats and furnishings. The company also declares about $950 million in goodwill and intangibles.
Caesars Entertainment owns approximately 70% of Caesars Interactive, according to Reuters. The World Series of Poker brand and its future real money online gambling rights are among the interactive unit’s assets. The company has yet to launch its real money games in the United States, but still posted revenue of $207.7 million in 2012. WSOP.com is currently awaiting regulatory approval in Nevada and New Jersey to launch its real money online gambling products in those states.
Caesars Interactive will have its own stock offering in the future valued at an estimated $1.2 billion that will include Planet Hollywood and a Maryland casino under development. Caesars Entertainment plans to hold at least 42 percent of the new venture, according to the same Reuters article.
Warning Implies Caesars Might Close
In my opinion, the warning in the quote from the Vegas Inc article suggests that Caesars Entertainment could cease operations at some or maybe all of its properties. This usually happens when a company files for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which ends in the liquidation of the company to pay creditors. This is what a company or individual does when their outlook is completely hopeless. A company with over $16 billion in assets that is profitable before it services its debt is hardly a candidate for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Should Caesars Entertainment eventually file for bankruptcy, and there is no evidence that such a move is imminent, a Chapter 11 reorganization would certainly be the route the company chooses. This would allow Caesars to renegotiate with its creditors. Equity is often issued to the lenders and representatives of the former creditors, whom may also find their way onto the company’s board. Operations continue as normal in this situation. Customers notice little to no difference in a company as it reorganizes under Chapter 11. Hotel reservations are certainly not abandoned in this scenario.
Hotel Reservation Advice
If you are inclined to take life on the extremely conservative side then you are probably not a typical Las Vegas visitor. I still have some advice if you fit into that category.
First, if a hotel were to change ownership, the new management would honor reservations accepted by the previous entity. If the hotel were to close for renovations then there would be ample notice given to its guests to make other arrangements.
If you are concerned that Caesars Entertainment or any other hotel may go out of business there are several actions that you may take to protect the deposit on your room. Online travel agents often guarantee the rooms they sell. If you show up and your hotel has gone out of business then the website will find you a comparable room at a different property. Ample notice is usually given to guests should this occur.
If you use your credit card for a room less than 60 days before your trip then you will have chargeback rights under federal law. Many high-tiered credit cards will guarantee your hotel deposit no matter how far in advance you book the room if the hotel ceased operations.
Front Money Deposits
The quote in the Vegas Inc article also addresses a concern that casino deposits may be at risk. Several casino companies went through the bankruptcy process during the recession. I do not know of any reports of player deposits being lost, nor have any players reported their chips being refused at casino cages. The best advice here for conservative players is to wire your money as close to your trip as possible and not go home with casino chips, although I feel there is no cause for concern here either.
I am not a shareholder or regular patron of Caesars Entertainment. This article is not meant as investment advice. It is simply to address rumors that I feel are excessively conservative to say the least and may have even been taken out of context by the investment community.
I respect the rights of the newsletter that advised customers to avoid making hotel room and casino account deposits with Caesars Entertainment and respect anyone that chooses to follow that advice. I simply disagree with the suggestion that there is any immediate danger in doing business with Caesars Entertainment.
Edited 9/4: Typo corrected