Tough times for U.S. casino operators

Sep 23, 2008 6:05 PM

by Ray Poirier | A dim outlook on gaming operators in the U.S. has been taken by analysts at Goldman Sachs.

In a note to clients, Betsy Gorton cited economic problems such as tighter consumer spending, increasing unemployment, falling home prices and tougher credit as reasons for not expecting casino companies to see big improvements through the end of next year.

Even regional gaming operators might see challenging times, she said. Not only is competition growing for these casinos but states are being pressured by environmental groups to implement smoking bans where history has shown properties see their revenues fall by as much as 20%.

The analyst has placed "sell" ratings on the shares of Ameristar Casino Inc. (ASCA) and Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE), and a "buy" rating on the shares of Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) because of its strong balance sheet.