Unfortunately, this party of acronyms may not be so happy.
With Delaware and now Maryland considering table games, the positive Atlantic City inflection point continues to move farther out on the horizon. MGM may not have the patience to wait it out. As reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal yesterday, MGM may be looking at exiting the AC market through selling its 50% stake in Borgata. It’s no secret that New Jersey gaming regulators have not been happy with MGM’s involvement with Pansy Ho given the alleged ties of her father Stanley Ho with the Chinese triads.
We cannot think of a worse time to sell an Atlantic City asset. BYD, MGM’s 50% partner in Borgata, is sitting pretty in at least one respect. Certainly, Borgata represents over 20% of the company’s property EBITDA so that’s not good. However, BYD does hold the right of first refusal on any MGM agreement to sell. So while it's a bad time to sell for MGM, it’s probably a good time to buy for a long-term investor such as BYD.
In the meantime, Borgata cash flow expectations probably need to be ratcheted down. Pennsylvania slots have had a huge impact on AC and with table games just legalized, the market share shift will continue. Maryland is not even built out yet but slots, and maybe table, are coming. The Delaware House just passed table game legislation and the Senate is supposed to follow suit. The Governor has indicated he will sign the legislation.
The following chart shows that table games have outperformed slots in Atlantic City most of the last two years during which slots in Pennsylvania proliferated. That is, up until recently as table game play fallen off the cliff, and that’s before the addition of tables in PA, DE, and MD. The problem for Borgata is that it generates almost 40% of its gaming revenue from the tables, the second highest in the market. Borgata's table dominance has partly attributed to its ability to outperform the market until recently. Given the supply outlook, table revenue is probably more at risk over the next few years.