Commercial Gaming

MGM, Wynn Resorts Hunting for Big-Time Development Opportunities, Says Moody’s

MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) will mull new, large-scale development opportunities around the world. That could result in the operators taking on significant debt, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Bellagio Las Vegas, seen here. Moody’s says MGM and Wynn will pursue big development opportunities. (Image: Bloomberg)

The research firm made the comments as part of fresh credit reviews of the gaming companies. Moody’s has “Ba3” grades on both gaming companies’ credit ratings or three notches into junk territory. Ratings weren’t altered as part of the periodic evaluation.

We expect MGM will actively pursue other large integrated resort development projects that would require significant equity investment and debt to finance construction,” said Moody’s.

That’s not a surprising assessment, given that the Bellagio operator has a long-held interest in developing an integrated resort in Osaka, Japan. MGM’s front-runner status in the country’s third-largest city was recently cemented when a request-for-proposal (RFP) deadline for other companies to enter the fray came and went with no new entrants.

The largest operator on the Las Vegas Strip, MGM’s international operations currently consists of MGM China — the Macau business in which the US company owns 56 percent. That enterprise controls two integrated resorts in the world’s largest gaming center. Aside from Japan, the Mandalay Bay operator hasn’t been tied to new international land-based casino projects.

Wynn Interesting Case, Too

Moody’s expects Wynn will also pursue fresh opportunities in the US and abroad as an avenue for diversifying its Macau-heavy revenue stream.

“We also expect that Wynn will be presented with and pursue other large, high profile, integrated resort development opportunities around the world,” said the research firm. “As a result, there will likely be periods where the company’s leverage experiences periods of increases due to partially debt-financed, future development projects.”

Last August, the company closed its Yokohama office, citing the coronavirus pandemic. However, executives haven’t overtly said Wynn is throwing in the towel on Japan. Moody’s didn’t say if Wynn would use acquisitions for the purposes of international expansion, but the company previously made a run at Australia’s Crown Resorts. That deal fell apart after the target publicized an offer without the consent of the suitor.

Wynn adding another property to its roster doesn’t have to occur outside the US or via acquisition. The company is rumored to be a credible contender to develop new gaming venues in Chicago and New York.

New Projects Won’t Be Cheap

Analysts estimate that Japanese integrated resorts will cost $10 billion to $15 billion to build. Even at the low end of that range, that’s high enough to mark the most expensive gaming property ever constructed.

MGM is partnering with Japanese conglomerate Orix, which will defray some of its upfront cost exposure. That’s a positive because its leverage is likely to be high for another year or so.

“As a result of a slow expected recovery in Las Vegas and Macau, MGM is weakly positioned at the Ba3 level, as leverage is expected to remain elevated for at least the next year,” adds Moody’s.

In the Mirage operator’s favor is its cash stockpile of more than $7 billion, and its ability to efficiently raise capital by further paring its stake in MGM Growth Properties (NYSE:MGP).

Todd Shriber

Gaming Financials, Casino Business----Todd Shriber got his start in financial markets as a reporter with Bloomberg News. Later, he became a trader at a Southern California-based long/short hedge fund, where he specialized in trading sector and international ETFs leading up to and during the financial crisis. Currently, he analyzes, researches, and writes on ETFs for a variety of Web-based publications and financial services firms. Shriber has been quoted in Barron's, CNBC.com, and The Wall Street Journal. His work has been published on sites such as Benzinga, ETF Daily News, ETF Trends, MarketWatch, Fox Business, and Nasdaq.com. He joined the Casino.org news writing team in 2019, and lives in Southern California, where he enjoys golf and taking his black lab to the dog park. When in Las Vegas, he likes to wager on college football, the NBA, three-card poker, and roulette, even though he knows better. Email: todd.shriber@casino.org

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Todd Shriber