08/20/2020 | by
Sarah Borchersen-Keto

Ed Pitoniak says many gaming operator tenants are seeing profitability exceed last year’s levels.



After spending much of the second quarter in a defensive mode, VICI Properties Inc. (NYSE: VICI) is now actively looking for ways to opportunistically deploy capital, says CEO Ed Pitoniak.

Speaking on the Nareit REIT Report, Pitoniak said that once VICI began to receive signals that its assets, particularly those in regional markets, were going to reopen strongly following COVID-19 shutdowns, “we felt confident enough to go back on the offensive.”

In mid-June, VICI announced it had agreed to provide a $400 million mortgage loan secured by the Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas and had also agreed to acquire approximately 23 acres of undeveloped land parcels adjacent to the center of the Las Vegas Strip for approximately $103.5 million.

At the same time, VICI raised $662 million of primary equity, an amount that exceeded the funds necessary for the Las Vegas transactions. The extra funds “should give us firepower to be very opportunistic in the months and quarters ahead,” Pitoniak said.

During the podcast Pitoniak also commented that:

•  VICI collected 100% of rent from its tenants in the second quarter

•  Gaming operators were able to respond quickly and effectively when they got the go-ahead to re-open

•  In many cases, gaming operators’ profitability has exceeded levels seen last year

•  A number of VICI’s tenants believe they may be able to achieve permanent margin improvements coming out of this cycle

•  The gaming industry is starting to discover how it will develop its next generation of customers, namely millennials