PENN NATIONAL BUYS CONTROL OF SOUTH PHILLY’S LIVE! CASINO

By Mark Donovan

The Cordish Cos., the Baltimore-based developer behind Live! Casino & Hotel in South Philly, Maryland and Power Plant Live!, will sell its three casino properties to a real estate investment trust that specializes in gaming sites.

The $700 million Live! Casino Philadelphia opened in Feb. 2021. It has 208 hotel rooms, a recently opened 15,000-square-foot event center and a FanDuel Sportsbook. In PA, it also has an online casino, PlayLive, and Betway online sportsbook operates in the state through it’s partnership with Live!

The deal with Gaming and Leisure Properties is valued at as much as $1.8 billion, according to a news release sent by the Pennsylvania-headquartered firm, which is owned by Penn National..

Cordish will relinquish ownership of the real estate at its casinos at Arundel Mills in Hanover and in Philly and Pittsburgh but will lease back the properties and “continue uninterrupted to own, control and manage all the gaming operations of the facilities,” the release said.

Such a sale-and-lease-back transaction could provide Cordish with cash to finance new projects or expand current ones, experts in the gaming and real estate industries said, and has occurred among other casino operators in the country.

“It gives the gaming firm the advantage of still profiting but spinning off the real estate of it,” said James Karmel, a casino gaming analyst and author of “Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era.”

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