Next Stop, Maryland: Penn National Riding Barstool Sportsbook Train to Hollywood Casino Perryville

Written By Kevin Shelly on December 15, 2020 - Last Updated on January 30, 2021
Penn National Buys Hollywood Casino in Maryland

Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming is buying a casino it developed a decade ago for $31.1 million. The location is a strategic 39 miles outside Baltimore.

The acquisition, which should close in mid-2021, provides a springboard for entering the retail and online sports betting markets in the Free State. Maryland voters approved the initial move to allow sports betting in November.

Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. (GLPI), a 2013 real estate spinoff from Penn National, is selling its operational rights at the Perryville property to Penn. The sale will require approval from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission.

In turn, Penn will sign an annual lease and pay an annual rent of about $7.77 million to GLPI, which is a real estate investment trust, or REIT.

Penn National prepping for sports betting in Maryland

Jay Snowden, Penn National’s president and CEO, said in a news release:

“With the recent approval of sports betting through the overwhelming passage of Question 2 on Election Day, Maryland is expected to soon become a significant retail and mobile sports betting market.”

The company operates retail sports betting and recently launched online betting in PA via the Barstool Sportsbook, which is destined to spread to other jurisdictions.

With PA casinos once again closed due to the virus, the rush to get online makes sense.

Penn has a Barstool/online strategy, and the stock market approves

Penn acquired more than a third of Barstool Sports in late January as part of its strategy to grow the company online, rather than focusing on brick-and-mortar establishments. Eventually, Penn could own half of Barstool.

Penn also has a hand in the PA online casino market, with Hollywood casino and now, BetMGM online casino, live in Pennsylvania.

The stock market has approved the strategy, with $PENN doing well in the gaming category and its share price this morning topping $82, near its all-time high.

MarketWatch puts its year-to-date value up 222.24% and its one-month performance up 25.9%.

Penn and GLPI have overlapping interests

GLPI was created because REITs are not subject to federal income tax. Penn was in the vanguard of such divisions between casino operations and related real estate holdings. GLPI holds the property of more than 25 of Penn’s casinos and several of its racinos. Penn has 41 properties across 19 states.

GLPI is overseen by Peter M. Carlino, son of Peter D. Carlino, the founder of Penn National. The younger Carlino ran Penn from 1994 until 2019. He resigned from the chairmanship of Penn last year because of federal antitrust restrictions. However, he retains a nonvoting seat on Penn’s board and serves as chairman emeritus.

Penn National and GLPI are both in Wyomissing, PA, a small suburb near Reading.

GLPI also selling management of a Baton Rouge casino

The majority of Penn’s properties are leased from GLPI, which also leases properties to other gambling concerns, including Caesars and Boyd Gaming.

GLPI’s portfolio currently has just two properties for which it both owns the land and manages the casino.

The other besides the Perryville location is Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge.

GLPI intends to sell the Baton Rouge operations to Casino Queen, a holding company, for $28.2 million while retaining the Louisiana real estate. As a result, GLPI is entering into a lease agreement for the Baton Rouge property and DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis. The combined annual rent is about $21.4 million.

“The sale of our operations in Baton Rouge and Perryville is bittersweet, as both properties were foundational to the creation of GLPI seven years ago,” Carlino said in a statement.

Lead image via Dreamstime

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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