VICI Loving Landlord Life, Adds $253 Million in Annual Rent as New Caesars Is Born

Posted on: July 21, 2020, 10:04h. 

Last updated on: July 21, 2020, 01:28h.

VICI Properties (NYSE:VICI) is a winner in the deal creating the new version of Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR), with the real estate company acquiring $253 million worth of annual rent in that transaction.

VICI Wins in Caesars Deal
Harrah’s New Orleans, seen here, is one of the properties VICI is buying in deals stemming from the transaction creating the new Caesars. (Image: Visit New Orleans)

On Monday, Eldorado Resorts finalized its $17.3 billion takeover of Caesars, with the buyer assuming the seller’s name and stock ticker, and creating what executives are calling the “new Caesars.” VICI, a real estate investment trust (REIT), was spun-off from the old Caesars in 2017 when that company was looking to raise cash amid bankruptcy proceedings.

Since then, the REIT became Caesars’ largest landlord, owning the property of venues such as Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, while adding to its roster of gaming tenants, including the old Eldorado. With the new Caesars officially here, VICI is adding rental income and amending some old leases, including the accords pertaining to Caesars Palace Las Vegas (CPLV) and Harrah’s Las Vegas (HLV).

The CPLV Lease Agreement and HLV Lease Agreement have been amended and combined into a single master lease agreement, referred to as the ‘Las Vegas Master Lease,’” said the REIT. “In exchange for aggregate consideration of approximately $1.4 billion, annual rent under the Las Vegas Master Lease has increased by $98.5 million.”

All existing Caesars leases are being extended so that “a full 15-year initial lease term remains prior to the expiration of the initial base lease term.”

Victory for VICI

The transaction forming the new Caesars — one creating the largest domestic gaming company — is a win for VICI, too. That’s because it’s bolstering its property roster by acquiring the real estate of Harrah’s New Orleans, Harrah’s Laughlin, and Harrah’s Atlantic City.

VICI paid a total of $3.2 billion for those venues, which are being folded into an agreement known as the regional master lease. Annual rent under that pact is being increased by $154 million. There’s more to VICI’s agreement with Caesars, and that could see the landlord boost its property holdings in the future.

The gaming company and the REIT have a put-call agreement whereby the operator can require the real estate firm to purchase real estate assets associated with Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand. VICI can also buy those properties of its own accord under the terms of a deal running between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2024.

Indiana regulators expressed some concern about a REIT owning those racetracks. But if the sales come to fruition, VICI wouldn’t be involved in day-to-day gaming operations.

VICI also has the right of first refusal to engage in a sale-leaseback transaction on Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, assuming Caesars decides to sell that venue.

Vegas Deals, Too

The landlord also has first refusal rights on two of the following Strip casinos: Flamingo Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas, LINQ Hotel & Casino, Paris Las Vegas, and Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Caesars is expected to sell at least one of those venues over the next 12 months.

VICI played an integral role in helping Eldorado bring the acquisition of Caesars across the finish line. Last month, the real estate company signed a $400 million mortgage deal on Caesars Forum Convention Center at Caesars Palace while buying 23 acres of undeveloped land near the Strip for $103.5 million — deals resulting in $503.5 million in cash for Eldorado.