Caesars Entertainment, Inc.

Q1 2023 Earnings Conference Call


spk10: Good day and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Caesars Entertainment Inc. 2023 first quarter earnings conference call. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. After the speaker's presentation, there will be a question and answer session. To ask a question during the session, you'll need to press star 1-1 on your telephone. You will then hear an automated message advising your hand is raised. To withdraw your question, please press star 1-1 again. Please be advised that today's conference is being recorded. I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Brian Agnew, Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance, Treasury, and Investor Relations.
spk16: Thank you, Josh, and good afternoon to everyone on the call. Welcome to our conference call to discuss our first quarter 2023 earnings. This afternoon, we issued a press release announcing our financial results. for the period ended March 31st, 2023. A copy of the press release is available in the Investor Relations section of our website at Joining me on the call today are Tom Reed, our Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Carano, our President and Chief Operating Officer, Brett Yunker, our Chief Financial Officer, and Eric Keshen, President of Caesars Sports and Online Gaming. Before I turn the call over to Anthony, I would like to remind you that during today's conference call, we may make certain forward-looking statements about the company's performance. Such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and therefore one should not place undue reliance on them. Forward-looking statements are also subject to the inherent risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed. For additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ from those discussed in our forward-looking statements, you should refer to the cautionary statements contained in our press release as well as the risk factors contained in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Caesars Entertainment undertakes no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after today's call. Also, during today's call, the company may discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures as defined by SEC Regulation G. The GAAP financial measure is most directly comparable to each non-GAAP financial measure discussed, and the reconciliation of the differences between each non-GAAP financial measure and the comparable GAAP financial measure can be found on the company's website at by selecting the press release regarding the company's 2023 first quarter financial results. I will now turn the call over to Anthony Carano.
spk15: Thank you, Brian, and good afternoon to everyone on the call. We had a strong start to 2023 in the first quarter. Our Las Vegas segment delivered a Q1 EBITDA and EBITDA margin record, and our regional segment reported a strong quarter, excluding weather disruptions in northern Nevada. In addition, our digital segment was nearly break-even, despite launching sports betting in two states during the quarter. Trends in Las Vegas remained strong during Q1, delivering 24% revenue growth and 33% EBITDA growth versus last year. Excluding real rent payments, Las Vegas generated $544 million of adjusted EBITDA with a margin of 48%, up 300 basis points versus last year. Occupancy during Q1 was 95% versus 83% the prior year. Strong occupancy in ADRs led to record in cash hotel revenues and food and beverage results. Our group and convention segment also delivered an all-time EBITDA record in Q1 and represented 21% of occupied rooms during the quarter, setting a new quarterly record for convention mix. Our forward outlook for the group and convention segment remains exceptionally strong driven by a continued combination of increasing room nights higher ADRs, and strong banquet revenues. In our regional segment, we delivered 2% revenue growth and a 2% decline in adjusted EBITDA versus last year. As Tom will discuss in more detail, our regional segment was negatively impacted by severe winter weather in northern Nevada. However, trends outside of northern Nevada remained strong during the quarter, delivering EBITDA growth year over year. We remain encouraged by the early returns we are seeing on recently completed capital projects, including the expansion and rebrand of Horseshoe Indianapolis, the expansion and rebrand of Harrah's Pompano Beach, and the new land-based Horseshoe Lake Charles. The success of these projects gives us further confidence in the return potential of our ongoing growth projects. We remain on track to open a temporary facility in Danville, Virginia on May 15th, and in Columbus, Nebraska by the end of Q2. Our expansion at Harris Hoosier Park is slated to open in Q3 of this year. The majority of our CapEx spend in AC is nearing completion, and we're looking forward to launching our new entertainment offering, The Hook by Spiegel World, this summer. Work on our $430 million expansion in New Orleans continues and is slated to be completed toward the end of 2024. And finally, we announced yesterday that we are transforming the former Jubilee Tower at Horseshoe Las Vegas into the new Versailles Tower at Paris Las Vegas. This $100 million rebrand and upgrade is included in our 2023 CapEx plans and slated to be completed this year. We're off to a great start in 23, and I want to thank all of our team members for their hard work in this first quarter. Our results are a reflection of their dedication to delivering exceptional guest service and experiences. With that, I'll now turn the call over to Eric for some insights on the first quarter in our digital segment.
spk03: Thanks, Anthony. During the first quarter of 2023, we delivered a dramatic improvement in the performance of our digital segment versus the prior year. Our business nearly broke even during the quarter on $238 million of net revenues and versus a $554 million EBITDA loss last year, which was impacted by significant brand-related spending and state launches in New York and Louisiana. Our performance this quarter clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of our targeted promotional investment within our existing customer base, as well as customers located in the new states that we launched this quarter, Ohio and Massachusetts. I'm pleased with the progress we have delivered over the last 12 months. Our net revenues continue to increase significantly as we launch new states, grow and retain our existing customer base, and continue to deliver exciting product improvements. On that front, we will be executing three significant tech enhancements to our platform during the remainder of the year. First, starting early in the third quarter, we will be launching a new standalone iCasino app. This exciting addition to our product offering will allow us to drive better customer engagement through a dedicated application with a focus on increased game content, which will include new proprietary offerings and improve marketing capabilities. Second, we expect to begin testing our in-house player account management system later this year, which will ultimately lead to a shared wallet that we anticipate rolling out in 2024. And finally, we expect to migrate all of our operations in Nevada to our Liberty tech stack ahead of the 2023 football season. From an EBITDA perspective, our net revenues are now at a scale where we are able to roughly break even and cover the costs of our proprietary technology. We expect that our year-over-year net revenues will continue to grow each quarter, and given the effectiveness of our expense management plan, will drive extremely high flow-through on each incremental dollar. From an expansion standpoint, after our most recent launches in Q1, we now offer sports betting in 30 North American jurisdictions, 22 of which we offer mobile wagering, and in addition we offer iCasino in five jurisdictions. I'll now pass the call over to Brett for some additional comments.
spk02: Thanks, Eric. Given the outstanding progress being made in our digital segment, which is now fully self-funded, we have the ability to sweep all brick-and-mortar cash flow toward debt reduction. Today we announced that we fully repaid the 8% $400 million Forum Convention Center loan due 2025, resulting in $32 million of annual interest expense savings and enhanced free cash flow. Our CapEx plans for 2023 remain unchanged, with a planned spend of $800 million, including $500 million of growth and $300 million of maintenance. Leverage on a traditional and rent-adjusted basis continues to decline as we repay debt and grow EBITDA with traditional net leverage just over 4x and rent-adjusted leverage just over 5x. We continue to target a third consecutive year of $1 billion of permanent debt reduction. With that, I'll turn it over to Tom.
spk13: Thanks, Brett. Thanks, everybody, for joining today. To go a little deeper into the numbers, Vegas was very near an all-time quarterly record. It was a Q1 EBITDA and margin record, and it was a record for mix in the group business, 21%. Recall that Caesars pre-merger was running at about 14%. And so what you're seeing through Vegas is not only just extraordinary demand that continues as you look through each month, you're seeing the average customer in our property continuing to raise. We're getting group business that is higher dollar, comes with banquet business attached, and replaces our least profitable players. So it's a virtuous cycle in Vegas as we sit here today. Obviously, second quarter generally is our most difficult comp of the year since that was our all-time record. Second quarter last year we did almost a billion fifty of brick-and-mortar EBITDA, but we feel very good about business into April and through the rest of this quarter in Vegas and as you look forward with the group business that's on the books going forward. We did announce a hundred million dollar project to change the Bally's Jubilee Tower to the Versailles Tower at Paris. It'll be connected by a physical bridge into the property. Paris has really exploded as we've improved the casino floor and added a number of high-end food and beverage options, including Nobu, the Bedford, and Vanderpump. and room rates at both room rate and spend non-gaming spend per room at Paris are significantly ahead of where they are at Horseshoe. So we think this will be a high ROI and more importantly high conviction in that ROI project that is in design stages now and should begin shortly. Regional, if I touch on regional for a moment, the Tahoe area, northern Nevada, got about 720 inches of snow, so 60 feet of snow in the quarter. Unfortunately for us, a lot of those storms hit Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Even with that amount of snow, you can get lucky as to when it hits. We did not. So weather in northern Nevada costs about $20 million of EBITDA in the quarter. So if you normalize for weather in the quarter, regional EBITDA and margin both would have been up slightly. We've got a number of exciting projects there that I'll touch on as I get a little deeper. I'll circle back to that. In digital, we were about a $3.5 million loss. That was with the launches of Massachusetts and Ohio and a Super Bowl that didn't hold very well for us, frankly, given the amount of scoring that happened in it. Really, if any of those three legs were not a part of the quarter, We were positive as we sit here today. We are positive on a year-to-date basis in digital. I told you last quarter we anticipate that we will generate positive EBITDA for the year 2023. I can tell you today we're already there on a year-to-date basis. And the amount of EBITDA that I was expecting when we announced that we'd be positive for the year about 90 days ago versus where we are today, we think we'll do considerably better than where we thought we were even 90 days ago. And something that comes up in digital and conversations with investors is, I suppose from our peers, that gee, it's just Nevada. I want to be clear that non-Nevada as a piece of digital, and I'm not going to get super specific, But more than 80% of our digital business is non-Nevada. And we will be EBITDA positive this year. We remain on track to generate the 50% return on the billion one of cumulative losses that we generated as we launched the business. I still expect that to be a 2025 event with the hope that we're run rating that level by the fourth quarter of 24. So I want to get out of, I know these calls tend to focus on, you know, right now, next 90 days. I want you guys to know how do I think of the business from a longer-term perspective. And I want to couch this with this is not guidance. As most of you know, I'm pretty transparent, so this is what I see today. When we took over Caesars, the assets that we own today, the brick and mortar assets, were doing $2.9 billion of trailing EBITDA. As we look post first quarter, The Vegas business, LTM EBITDA, Vegas alone is a little over $2.1 billion. Regional is a little less than $2 billion. When you run through managed and corporate, we're right at about $4 billion of EBITDA from the same assets that were doing 2.9 prior to the merger. We've got about $2.4 billion of... operating costs, cash outflows between rent, cash interest expense, maintenance capex. So with about $215 million shares outstanding, that's about $750 of free cash flow per share as we sit here today. The digital business for now seven months is about break-even, so obviously inflecting to positive, we've told you what we expect that to do through 25. In that same timeframe, I think we've got a similar amount of incremental EBITDA that will come through the brick and mortar business. So a piece of that is, pieces of that are the projects that Anthony touched upon. You've got the Lake Charles expansion that opened in December, so we're still in the first half of the first year post that reopening. We've got the Pompano project where the racetrack came out of the business. We expanded the casino. We will start to see the JV development begin in earnest. It's already in earnest around the property, but you'll start to see pieces come online. We've got the Atlantic City spend, which is largely in the rearview mirror. This summer is the first prime period where we will not be significantly disrupted on our floors from those projects, so we're optimistic there. We've got the Hoosier Park expansion in Indianapolis, which is again a high probability, high ROI project. It mirrors what we did at Horseshoe, Indianapolis, where we have seen returns in excess of 30% on that capital. We expect a similar outcome at Hoosier Park. And then you've got New Orleans, which is over $400 million. That'll come online before the Super Bowl of 25, so toward the end of 24. That's going to transform that property into a Caesars a number of high-end restaurants. You've got a Caesars Tower that will be dropped right in the middle of the casino. You've got a number of high-end food and beverage offerings. You've got third-party development across the street, a Four Seasons Hotel opened across the street within the last 12 months. So we're excited about what's possible there. So I think what we're looking at, if you look out to 25, in my view, is a company that could be pushing toward $5 billion of EBITDA. As Brett said, we paid down $400 million mortgage note on the Forum Convention Center yesterday. That puts us on track to pay down over a billion dollars of debt for the third consecutive year. I would expect 24 and 25 to look the same. So again, as we sit here today, you're at $22 billion-ish of lease-adjusted debt, that $4 billion of EBITDA with digital flat. So you're at about five and a half times leverage. Just from what we do organically in the business as I described, that debt balance should get down to $18, $19 billion against the five. So you're looking at, in that scenario, you're paying down effectively 7% debt, a billion of it a year for three years. You're going to have some increase in the lease payment stream, but you're talking about $150 million less in cash outflows, a billion more in cash inflows. So you're looking more like $1,250 or more a share in cash flow. None of those assumptions in my mind seem particularly aggressive. I think we can generate an incremental half a billion out of the brick and mortar given the momentum that we have in the business, and I think we're going to do better than that in digital. If you think of where that comes in digital, I think you've got three legs of the stool and a third of it, and they'll roughly be a third, a third, a third. You've got the existing sports betting business continues to get more profitable. Volumes continue to increase. And you should expect that continues to drive positive EBITDA. That's the bulk of what's happening as you see us inflect to positive. Eric talked about The iGaming app that we will launch early in the third quarter, we're particularly excited about that. That's going to improve, in particular, our slot business in iGaming because our existing portal is through a sports betting app. Our existing iCasino business leans toward tables more than our peers, and iGaming Forward app is going to change that for us. If we get our iGaming share to equal our sports betting share, that's going to be that third of the boost in EBITDA. And then as we've talked about numerous times, we've got partnership and talent agreements that come up in the next, let's call it 12 to 24 months. that we expect will be the third leg of that stool that gets us to 500 million plus. Every time I speak to you, I'm more confident in those numbers. And every time I speak to you, we've outperformed where I thought we would have been 90 days ago. So that's obvious. Thanks for indulging me to think longer term. because I know we're going to get right back into what's the consumer doing right now and two weeks from now. And what I'll tell you is we continue to see significant strength across all of our assets with extraordinary strength in Las Vegas. So we are exceedingly optimistic about the road ahead. We're particularly proud of the quarter that we just posted. You know, the idea that if you add back to 20 in northern Nevada, that we were nearly a billion in EBITDA in the first quarter, which is not typically a seasonal strong point. I'm really pleased and proud of what our team and our employees have delivered and look forward to the rest of the year. And with that, we'll open it up for questions.
spk10: Thank you. As a reminder, to ask a question, please press star 1 1 on your telephone and wait for your name to be announced. To withdraw your question, please press star 1 1 again. Our first question comes from Carlos Santorelli with Deutsche Bank. You may proceed.
spk06: Hey, Tom. Everybody, thank you for the remarks. Tom, when you talked about kind of being positive year-to-date in digital and positive for the year, kind of an odd-sounding question, but from where we are today, do you expect to remain positive through the year? Will we see a 3Q that likely embeds some spending ahead of the NFL season and then obviously harvesting that in the fourth quarter?
spk13: Yeah, three Qs, probably a coin flip as to whether or not we are slightly positive or slightly negative, as you allude to. Basically, you have a lot of pre-football season spend, and you've only got about three NFL weeks to work against that. I would also tell you, though, that if you had asked me the same question 90 days ago, about the quarter that we were in or the quarter that we're in now, we continue to beat our internal expectations. So I'm cautiously optimistic that we could have seen our last negative quarter.
spk06: Great, thank you. And then as it pertains to Las Vegas, obviously Second quarter is a tougher comparison with some larger groups that were meaningful in the 2Q last year out. As you think about the second half of this year, as well as into next year, do you get the sense from kind of your mix shift and your group pace, coupled with kind of what you're seeing on the casino floor, that you're able to kind of just shrug off, you know, what might be a little bit of a challenging comparison in the 2Q and resume growth in the back half of the year?
spk13: Yes, I think that's a great way to put it. I think second quarter is a, we're going to be very pleased if we match what we did last year. We remain exceedingly strong if you look at The next 90 days of our occupancy forecast, which is what we've got the most confidence in at any given point, you're still looking at mid-90s occupancy on the strip at healthy rates. But you're not going to repeat the utility, or we feel much better about the utility situation that we had last year in the third quarter. And then the fourth quarter, you've got Formula One, which we think will be a significant boost to that quarter. So I'd say something similar to last year's second quarter and then growth in the second half is a good place to be.
spk06: Great. Thank you. And then if I may, just one follow-up along those same lines. As you guys look out on the horizon in terms of Bookings, and I'm talking more so towards leisure, transient, et cetera. Are you seeing anything across the market from a promotional perspective that has changed at all?
spk13: Nothing that's material enough to impact us that we'd want to discuss. You know, we see in various markets, it depends who our competitors are, what the market looks like. You've seen some remain disciplined, others not. You know, the Sadly, one of the statements I can make is Caesar's used to be the bad actor in a lot of the markets and isn't anymore, so we feel very good about the current environment.
spk06: Thank you very much.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question comes from Joe Greff with J.P. Morgan. You may proceed.
spk07: Good afternoon, guys. Just starting with Las Vegas, Tom, obviously the 21% of occupied rooms in the first quarter relating to the group segment, that's a fairly significant jump and good to see. Can you talk about how group looks for the balance of this year? Is group pace, group room nights up in the aggregate 2Q through 4Q?
spk16: Joe, all the KPIs in the group and convention business are up to last year in 2019. So both rooms, ADRs, and banquet revenues are pacing ahead for the rest of the year. We expect the group business to have another record year in 2023. Great.
spk07: Thank you. And then on digital, Tom, you had spoken earlier that your outlook is favorable just over the last 90 days, and I know you talked about some of the things that you're doing there. How much of that is, you know, a rationalized cost structure and the scale benefits, and OSP, how much of that is related to iCasino and some of the things that you have done and will be doing this year?
spk13: So those are, you're hitting on the main contributors. The chief driver of the change has been what we've done on the promo and branding side. I think promo as a percent of handle for the quarter was around one and a quarter percent, which is dramatically lower than our peers. Our cost of acquisition has come down considerably. Ohio, as a new launch state for us, was EBITDA positive in March. so month three post-launch. So we're really feeling good about the way that we're running the business and how we're positioned. Matt in iGaming has done a great job of continuing to build that business off of the current platform, but we really think the opportunity there starts in earnest beginning of third quarter when we launch the new iCasino app.
spk07: Great. Thank you, guys.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question comes from Stephen Wyzinski with Spiegel. You may proceed.
spk05: Yeah. Hey, guys. Good afternoon. So, Tom, if I can, can I put you back on your soapbox for a minute? You know, I want to get your opinion on a question we get a lot from, you know, from investors. They always seem to want to know. They always want to ask and You know, they just want to get the feel for, you know, is this going to be the best that Vegas ever is, especially as we kind of, you know, move through 2023's strong event calendar. So just maybe if you could, you know, opine on that as to, you know, maybe why that's not the case.
spk13: Yeah, I think you've seen Vegas as a market do a fantastic job of continuing to add new events and, you know, in the case of sports franchises or Formula One that bring a significantly more valuable customer to the market. So if I look at Vegas now, you know, all of us are pretty full. You know, I listened to Bill and team yesterday. Congratulations to them. They had a fantastic quarter as well. But we're all doing well here. Occupancy rates are quite high. And so, yeah, it's natural to say, how do you get better? Well, you get better by up-tiering the average customer that is coming to the market. And that's what you can see in our own microcosm of the market in Caesars, where what's happened in our business over the last... three years is both the expense discipline but also a better average customer. And you see the Raiders come to town, you see Formula One, you see us gaining share as a market in the group business. The people that come to see those, to see Formula One, the A's just announced a couple of weeks ago tend to be a better average customer, so you're bringing in higher value customers and we're already full. So you're kicking out the lowest end. I see no reason that that needs to stop or would stop. This market has done a great job over the 30 years I've been involved in and around gaming. in continuing to add reasons for people to come, continuing to add capacity, and continuing to add to the average customer that shows up here. We all know that back in our parents' day, it was a very different market. Low value, you get steak and lobster for a couple of bucks. You know, now you're talking about, you know, one of the best food and beverage scenes in the world. You know, among the best sports and entertainment experiences in the world and continually adding to that. You know, we are working to continue to add to that. MGM, Wynn, Sands, they're all working to up-tier what we're offering the customers. And then the market as a whole, you know, I've got to give credit to Steve Hill at LVCVA. He was the driver of bringing Formula One here, and it's going to be huge for the market. So the nice thing about, you know, we all like to, you know, stand back-to-back, see who's tallest in this market and argue about that. but we do work together well to make sure that this market continues to expand. And I think it's foolish to bet that, you know, that 30-year cycle is all of a sudden going to be over a quarter from now.
spk05: And then, Tom, you know, I know you said, thanks for that, by the way. That was very helpful. And I know you said you aren't giving guidance, but look, unfortunately, investors are going to take your $5 billion math essentially as guidance for 2025. So I guess what I want to ask here is I assume your $5 billion math is meaning the consumer stays pretty much where they are right now. But if you think about all those buckets you laid out to get to that $5 billion, What would be the one bucket that you would say is you're maybe the most, I don't want to use the word, most concerned about or the biggest stretch to kind of get there? Hopefully that makes sense.
spk13: Yeah, so I'm talking about a three-year time horizon, right? So end of 25, we're not typically talking about that type of time horizon on a call like this. So is it possible in that three years you have a cyclical downturn? Yeah, sure. So you want to quibble and say $5 billion might be $4.75 billion? All right, I'll give you that. You know, that's a buck a share on that free cash flow number. You're talking about a company here that has been levered for a very long time before we ever got here and then post-merger. And, you know, I see a path to where lease-adjusted leverage is less than four times, conventional leverage is less than three times, and we're spitting out over $12 a share of free cash flow. You know, quite frankly, if you want to say, you know, gee, I think it'll be 10 or 11 instead of 12, I think that still looks good against a stock that's at 44.
spk05: Okay, great. Thanks, Tom. Really appreciate it.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question comes from Dan Pulitzer with Wells Fargo. You may proceed.
spk01: Hey, good afternoon. Thanks for taking my question. I wanted to touch on regionals, Tom. Could you talk about maybe the cadence over the course of the quarter and what you've seen into April? I know there's been some noise in terms of comparisons, both on a year-over-year and versus 2019 basis, but it sounds like the consumer is doing fine. So if you can maybe just provide some clarity or any additional color on that.
spk13: Yeah, so I'd say March was, I told you on the last call, I think we could have an all-time record in March. It was an all-time record for us, so regional and regional. Vegas were strong. April, you had a negative calendar shift that we get back in June. So I'd expect that you should see or you should expect to see that roll through the numbers. But generally speaking, we are seeing continued strength across the portfolios.
spk01: Got it. And then Pompano, you mentioned this quickly in your prepared remarks. I mean, this was a big JV project with a long-term time horizon that was supposed to be built out over time. You've had the casino expansion now come online. How should we think about maybe some JV equity cash flow distributions coming from this and the returns over time? And maybe even in the near term, are you seeing any disruption as this bigger project gets built out?
spk13: So the front of our property is definitely disrupted. There's a Topgolf and a Publix under construction, and we redid our portico chair. But despite that, we're seeing significant momentum in Pompano generally. If I had to point to our stars as we sit here right now today, Pompano, and Reno jump out at me in the last 30 days or so. What you're going to see out of Pompano in terms of that JV, we've finally thankfully worked through all of the local approvals required. We're moving dirt, the track is closed. The grandstand's coming down. So you're going to see a lot of development activity there over the next 12 to 24 months. There is cash in the JV. We would expect to be, if there is any capital required from the JV partners, it's already in the JV. To your point, we're probably closer to where starts to come out of the JV, but I don't think that's a 23 event. I think that's 24, 25, but we're particularly pleased that has taken far longer than we anticipated when we originally announced it. I don't typically announce something and say get excited six years from now, but I thought it was going to happen much quicker than that, but we're now right on the cusp of where that's going to drive not only the cash flow into the JV that's going to allow distributions, but as importantly for us, the traffic to the property that's going to continue the momentum that we've seen over the last quarter or two. Got it.
spk01: Thanks so much.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question comes from Brent Montour with Barclays. You may proceed.
spk12: Hey, good evening, everybody. Thanks for taking my questions. So just a couple more big-picture questions. Tom, back to your last discussion. You know, when you guys go through your longer-term scenario planning or stress testing or whatever you call it, I'm wondering if you'd be willing to sort of update or refresh a bear case to that $5 billion longer-term planning.
spk13: Yeah, so we're an $11 billion revenue group. company, plus or minus. If you look back to the crisis, you know, 08, you're talking about an 8% hit to that number. So call it $800 million in a GFC type scenario. I'd expect about 50% of that flows through. So in that scenario, I think you're $400 million of EBITDA that's at risk. I don't personally see a GFC-type scenario coming. I think based on what we can see, if there's a slowdown, it should be relatively shallow. In those numbers, particularly in Las Vegas, you had a massive supply increase into the financial crisis that doesn't occur here. So I'd be thinking more along the lines of half of that 800 and 400 as kind of what I see sitting here today as our down season risk in a normal cyclical downturn.
spk12: That's super helpful. Thanks for that. And then over at the three-legged stool for digital, You know, if you could, is there any way you could force rank those three legs sort of from least challenging to maybe what you consider most challenging of the three? And then which of those three legs do you think we could be sitting here in a couple years and you just sort of knock the cover off the ball?
spk13: I mean, I'd say they're all challenging. You know, this has been quite an experience over the last 18 months in terms of building this business from scratch. zero, feel really good about where we are today. I would say, you know, I'm cognizant that I've been talking about iCasino for a while and we have not turned. So, you know, I would look at that as that's the one where I understand we've got to show it to you. But given what's required there in terms of what we need to do and the leadership that we now have in place in that vertical, I think that's also where we can surprise you to the upside over that three-year timeframe.
spk12: Great. Thanks for all the color.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question goes from Barry Jonas with Truist Securities. You may proceed.
spk03: Hey, Tom, really appreciate all the commentary on the, you know, three-year, you know, potentially where EBITDA and deleverage could get and some of the sensitivities. I'm just curious, you know, where do things like New York, Dubai, or sell leasebacks fit in there? Is that cushion or is that even a potential upside?
spk13: Yeah, so the numbers I gave you don't include any real estate activity. So if we win New York, you know, If Vici exercises its call on Centaur as it has indicated that it is going to, that's upside from those numbers that I've given you both from a leverage and a free cash flow perspective.
spk03: Great. And then just as a follow-up, you know, I think MGM just announced an acquisition of an online game developer. Curious what your thoughts are for more investment on the content side, vertical integration, or just digital M&A in general.
spk13: We want to migrate to more of our own games. That's part of what's moving to our new app and ultimately our – NewPAM allows us to do. And I would say we are more of a builder versus a buyer, but that could change tomorrow if we see something attractive.
spk06: Perfect. Thanks so much.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question comes from Sean Kelly with Bank of America. You may proceed.
spk08: Hi, good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for taking my question. Tom, just kind of wanted to run a high-level corporate finance question by you to get your take on it. But if we kind of think out a little further as we know you're doing internally as you think about these numbers, if we take this $12.50 of free cash flow, I mean, scratch math, that's about a 28% free cash flow yield. You're paying down, you know, 8% debt at the moment, moving probably closer to 7% debt in terms of what's going to be coming available at some point and just where your long-term cost of debt is. At some point, when you can start to maybe turn the corner to 24, somewhere in here, when is that place where it makes sense to start expressing your view as it relates to that 28%, i.e., a different way of saying it? when you flip from paying down debt to buying back stock, because one would think that yield is just going to be too incredibly attractive to ignore.
spk13: Yeah, that's a fair question, Sean. It's not a simple question. We think that it's important that we continue to deliver because that's a limiting factor in terms of investor acceptance of the story. We're also cognizant that the track record of buying in this sector is kind of rough. If I pay down debt, it's a certain outcome in terms of what I'm doing. I have money that I owe that I no longer owe. as you go into buying your stock, you're subject to the whims of the macro, which has been the story in this space for the last 18 months. But there certainly is a point with leverage where you should expect that in addition to continuing to pay down debt, that there's a return of capital element to our free cash flow story. And, you know, you're talking about 24, which would be, you know, somewhere around the midpoint of the timeframe that I laid out in terms of expectations. That's probably a pretty good guess.
spk08: Very helpful. Thanks. And then maybe just with my follow-up, just a quick update on kind of the union renegotiation and the impacts of that on the, you know, on the cost front, assume that's obviously all factored into, in general, the growth that you're expecting to still achieve in Las Vegas, but just how do you see that playing through, appreciating that those types of things are specific negotiations are hard to comment on a public conference call?
spk13: Yeah, I mean, first of all, our expectations are built into those broader expectations. As you've seen in the quarter, we're doing quite well. We've been doing quite well for a while. Vegas is now a $2.1 billion market. Northern Nevada, for us, is over a quarter of a billion of EBITDA per year. We built those results on our frontline employees, so they deserve to share it. We've got a... contract that is up by the end of this month, I would expect with, you know, everybody in the market, you're going to see a short-term extension in terms of getting to a final deal, but you're going to see a significant raise for our frontline workers, and they deserve it. And that's in our in the numbers that I laid out in terms of expectations.
spk08: Thank you very much.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question comes from Chad Bannon with Macquarie. You may proceed.
spk04: Afternoon. Thanks for taking my question. Tom, it appears that interest rate hiking acceleration has potentially slowed here, which would potentially spark some more M&A activity broadly in the space. So when you're thinking about these 24, 25 goals, not that you're running anything to be sold, but has anything changed just in terms of the number of assets in the regional markets, in Vegas, that makes sense for kind of the future portfolio of Caesars? Thanks.
spk13: Yeah, I'd say short answer is no. We've got nothing for sale today. Don't expect to have anything for sale anytime soon. That said, as I've told you before, effectively as a public company, everything's for sale every day, so you don't know what you'll be approached with. But back to Sean's question, as you get to the point leverage-wise where we feel comfortable next year, in addition to a return of capital element, you start to think about the ability to become offensive in M&A, which obviously is a little more complex at our size, but we've driven a whole lot of shareholder value through M&A in the past, and I don't think we're very far from where we would see, where we would flip to you know, maybe looking offensively there versus kind of neutral, maybe something shows up, maybe a dozen. But that would be in the calculus of what are you doing with your free cash flow as well.
spk04: Okay. Thanks, Tom. And then nobody has asked about potential impact, just overall benefits with VAs potentially moving to Las Vegas. Obviously, it should be a positive as we've seen with other sports teams and just overall programming, but any additional thoughts in terms of what this would mean to Las Vegas, to your properties, to future growth? Thanks.
spk13: Yeah, it's exciting to see this market continue to develop. We welcome the announcement. Similar to Bill's remarks yesterday, It's important to us that their coming is done in a manner that doesn't unnecessarily tax the county or have taxes that eventually get passed on to our customers. So we think there's wood to chop there, but we are thrilled at the idea of the A's Coming to town, it provides, you know, another reason for customers to come and visit the market, and we're going to get our share of those customers.
spk04: Thanks, Tom. Appreciate it.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question comes from John Decree with CBRE. You may proceed.
spk09: Hi, everyone. Thanks for taking my question. maybe just one or perhaps a two-parter of Tom or Eric. You talked about executing on iGaming with some key product enhancements on the horizon like that single app for iCasino. And I think you mentioned some additional marketing capabilities that that would bring, but it might be helpful for investors to kind of understand what some of these product enhancements get you and what you'll be able to do specifically to generate some incremental revenue or start to execute GNI gaming. If you could maybe elaborate a little bit more on that, that would be helpful.
spk03: Yeah, sure. You know, from the highest perspective, when you think about the current app that we have, somebody goes on the app store, searches for Caesars, and they see the Caesars sportsbook. And they get that if they want to play the casino or the sportsbook. So they download the sportsbook and They sign up for the sportsbook, then they go find the button that takes them to the casino, and then they can start playing the casino. The next time they go and log on again to the app, it takes them to the sportsbook, and then they have to click through to go to the casino. So it's a fine experience for somebody who's predominantly a sportsbook player who then likes to dabble or play some of the casino side. But for somebody who's a primary casino customer or somebody who likes to play a little bit of sportsbook but mostly casino, they want to see the casino app and they want to go right into... the homepage where the casino games are that they can start engaging with. So at the highest level, you're going to attract a customer that, quite frankly, is very more akin to what our casinos are, which is somebody who likes to come in, play slots, like to see their favorite game and then start playing. And so we're going to be able to deliver that. In terms of the incremental functionality that we're going to get, we'll have a newly designed lobby so that it'll be much easier for our team to move the games around, to prioritize them, to advertise them based on whether they're new or there's a promotion going on. We'll be able to have some much better enhanced real-time marketing capabilities. So we'll be able to do some trigger-based responses to customers, which is something that we're not able to do right now. And then the general appearance and the speed of the app will be greatly enhanced. So overall, it's going to provide a much better experience for that customer that currently we're unable to provide the product that they want because it's somewhat buried in the sportsbook.
spk09: That's helpful, Eric. Maybe the follow-up question in terms of what you see, one of your big advantages is your customer database. And without that single app, you look at your penetration of that database for digital. Relative to your peers or expectations, is there a chunk of the database that you haven't really been able to get on board without that single app or just kind of see if you have some visibility into what the opportunity is?
spk03: Yeah, I would say in general, the customers that we have tend to skew younger and tend to skew more male on the Sportsbook app. And then what that translates to on the casino side is a higher percentage of table games business, which is great. We like that. But what we're missing is that core slot customer. And so when you think about the business that we have here with the regional players and the hub and spoke model with respect to Vegas, that core slot player is really valuable on the casino side. And so we think that by giving that customer an option to go directly into the app, we'll be able to provide them with something that's more in line with what they're expecting from their experience. And so, you know, to answer your question directly, I think it's going to attract a higher percentage of the slot customer, which is our core customer from the land-based perspective.
spk09: That makes sense, Eric. I appreciate that additional color. Thank you.
spk10: Thanks. Thank you. Our next question comes from David Katz with Jefferies. You may proceed.
spk14: Hi. Afternoon, everyone. Thanks for taking my questions. With respect to the Las Vegas Strip, you know, the tower project announcement sort of begs a discussion about where the Strip is headed because I think many would agree with the positive outlook that you've laid out. And with that, you know, other competitors entering the market, right, whether it's Hard Rock or Fountain Blue, you know, and over time sort of upping your game. And, you know, I had an accounting professor who used to say 100 million here and there, and it starts turning into real money. You know, is this the kind of thing we should expect as you sort of up your script game over time?
spk13: I mean, this is a pretty unique project. We've got a tower that can be absorbed into a property that has considerably higher room rate, considerably higher spend out of those rooms, and it has rooms that are existing that face the fountains across the street at Bellagio, but have no windows. What we can do here is a simple upgrade in terms of the rate that those rooms will get and then create on that side facing the strip probably some of our most attractive non-villa product in the market. And it's very easy to run the numbers and see the returns there are quite strong. I'll tell you, there has yet to be a capital project with the returns of this one that took more than 30 seconds for us to approve. You're going to see us upgrade Flamingo in terms of its food and beverage, particularly its strip frontage food and beverage. But you're not talking about even the quantum of spend that you're talking about at Paris and Bally's. So I think there's a few one-off opportunities that are high ROI. But the great thing about our portfolio on the strip is it's all right at midfield, right at the 50-yard line. And the demand for that location is exceedingly strong and has been for better than a generation. So we feel very good and there's not a ton of capital necessary to maintain that beyond what we've done historically, but there are some interesting projects that can be added to it.
spk14: Understood. Perfect. Thank you.
spk10: Thank you. Our next question comes from Steven Grambling with Morgan Stanley. You may proceed.
spk11: Hi, thanks. Just following up on John's earlier questions on iGaming and the digital business, just wanted to clarify, as you move to a standalone iGaming app, is that going to be branded as Caesars iGaming, or could you have multiple brands under each of your casino names? And is there any way to assess what the potential for incremental omni-channel spend could be as we think through total reward sign-ups that have occurred through the app, for example, today?
spk13: So on the brand, Steven, let me tell you to wait for about 60 days and we'll have a further answer on that. But I like the way that you think. And then on, you know, Caesars Rewards, we've talked about play that was generated new to the enterprise through digital into brick and mortar. or reactivated customers. The last time we told you that number, it was about 200 million on an annual basis. Without getting into a specific number, I tell you it's more than 50% larger than that today.
spk11: And just as a very quick follow-up on that, but that's not something that you're embedding in your hypothetical 5 billion 2025. No, I mean, there's a...
spk13: There is a contributing factor in what happens in the brick and mortar that digital is part of both directly and indirectly, but there's nothing, nothing needs to happen that isn't already happening or on the horizon in terms of the project, so.
spk11: Fair enough. Thanks so much.
spk13: All right. Thank you, Stephen. With that, I'm going to let everybody go. Thanks for your time and attention. We'll talk to you next quarter.
spk10: Thank you. This concludes today's conference call. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect.

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