VICI Properties Inc., the “experiential REIT” that was spun off from a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corp. just about three years ago, has provided a $400 million mortgage loan to a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Inc.
The loan is secured by the 550,000-square-foot Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas, according to a letter of intent entered into on June 15. The loan bears interest at an initial rate of 7.7 percent, has a term of five years and is pre-payable beginning in the third year, subject to certain conditions. VICI funded the loan with cash on hand.
In addition, the parties have waived the conditionality of the mortgage’s consummation on the consummation of a previously disclosed potential sale by Caesars to VICI of about 23 acres of land near The LINQ Hotel & Casino, Bally’s Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood gaming facilities, which was initially contemplated by the letter of intent. VICI and Caesars reportedly are continuing to evaluate a potential transaction involving that land.
The property features 300,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and what reportedly are the world’s two largest pillar-free ballrooms. More than 20,000 hotel guests are within walking distance, according to Caesars.
VICI’s portfolio consists of 31 gaming facilities totaling more than 50 million square feet, about 20,200 hotel guestrooms, and more than 200 restaurants, bars and nightclubs. VICI properties are leased to such prominent operators as Caesars, Century Casinos, Hard Rock International, JACK Entertainment and Penn National Gaming.
A chancy market
In late June, a Las Vegas Review-Journal headline asked “Could pandemic permanently change Las Vegas convention industry?” Understandably, the article beneath didn’t deliver definitive answers, but some experts the newspaper interviewed did opine that the rise of virtual/online conferences could indeed change the nature of the convention business.
One warning sign: Virtual trade shows can “bring in” much larger audiences than traditional in-person shows, no matter how much attendees might prefer the latter. What’s likely, it seems at the moment, is that in-person events will resume when circumstances allow, but in parallel with online events. One economist quoted by the Review-Journal suggested that convention business in Las Vegas could lag the recovery of tourism by six to 12 months.
In April, Caesars and VICI agreed to sell Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino in New Jersey for $25 million. The buyer, once the deal closes, will be Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc.
In July, Caesars Entertainment Corp. completed its $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts Inc., creating Caesars Entertainment Inc. As part of the transaction, VICI acquired the real estate assets of Harrah’s New Orleans, Harrah’s Laughlin (in Laughlin, Nev.) and Harrah’s Atlantic City for about $1.8 billion.