Although it is carried on across the United States every single day of the year, sports betting was only legal in Nevada and Delaware, and after years of efforts to change the rulings that kept it illegal, that prohibition came to an end on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the favor of individual states on a case involving the constitutionality defined by a 1992 law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibited states other than Nevada and Delaware from operating sports betting.
Several states already have passed legislation in advance, and others have indicated high interest in pursuing the matter. In a recent research report, Jefferies analysts said they felt that the addition of sports betting would indeed provide near near-term positives for some of the gaming stocks in their coverage universe.
The analysts feel that the top regional operators, as well as the companies that provide gaming technology, could be the ones that benefit the most, and they cited four in the report, with three being rated Buy and one with a Hold rating.
This well-known old-school gaming company offers solid upside. Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) provides casino-entertainment and hospitality services. Its segments include Caesars Entertainment Resort Properties, Caesars Growth Partners, and Other. The company’s resorts operate primarily under the Harrah’s, Caesars and Horseshoe brand names.
Caesars facilities include gaming offerings, food and beverage outlets, hotel and convention space, and non-gaming entertainment options. As of July 14, 2017, the company through its subsidiaries, operated 47 casinos in 13 states and five countries. The company recently completed a large reorganization, and with solid exposure to Las Vegas strip trends, it looks to be a solid stock for aggressive accounts.
Jefferies rates the stock a Hold, with a price target set at $14 a share. The Wall Street consensus target is $15.50. The stock traded on Monday at $12.55, up over 5% on the day.
International Game Technology
This stock has been hit over the past month and is offering a nice entry point for investors. International Game Technology PLC (NYSE: IGT) is the global leader in gaming. The company enables players to experience their favorite games across all channels and regulated segments, from Gaming Machines and Lotteries to Interactive and Social Gaming.
Leveraging a wealth of premium content, substantial investment in innovation, in-depth customer intelligence, operational expertise and leading-edge technology, International Game Technology gaming solutions anticipate the demands of consumers wherever they decide to play. The company has a well-established local presence and relationships with governments and regulators in more than 100 countries around the world, and it creates value by adhering to the highest standards of service, integrity and responsibility.
Jefferies has a $34 price target on this Buy-rated stock. The consensus price target is $33.83, and the stock traded on Monday at $29.60, up about 4%.
Penn National Gaming
This company made a huge Las Vegas purchase in 2016 to bolster its gaming portfolio. Penn National Gaming Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) owns, operates or has ownership interests in gaming and racing facilities and video gaming terminal operations, with a focus on slot machine entertainment.
As of December 31, 2017, the company operated 29 facilities in 17 jurisdictions, including California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, and Ontario, Canada. As of December 31, 2017, in aggregate, Penn National Gaming operated approximately 36,700 gaming machines, 820 table games and 4,800 hotel rooms.
The Jefferies Buy rating comes with a price target of $37, while the consensus target is $33.50. Shares were last seen trading at $33.55, up about 4%.
This is another play on the technology side of the sports betting potential. Scientific Games Inc. (NASDAQ: SGMS) is a leading gaming and lottery technology manufacturer. Offerings include 1) instant tickets and draw-based lottery games and systems, 2) electronic gaming machines, game content and systems, 3) table games products, and 4) social, mobile and interactive content and services.
In March, the company presented strong quarterly results that came in at the high-end of preannounced results, with all segments reporting positive outlooks. Top analysts see Scientific Games as a key beneficiary of increasing slot machine spending by operators.
Jefferies has a Buy rating and a $57 price target, which could be headed higher. The consensus price target is $51.67, and the shares were last seen at $59.05, up almost 6% on Monday.
With the Supreme Court ruling in favor of states legalizing sports betting, it makes sense to hop on board some of these top stocks now. While not suitable for all investors, growth accounts with a higher risk tolerance should take a long look now with the positive ruling.