Penn National Shares Implode as Coronavirus Forces Casino Closings

Penn National on Tuesday alone closed casinos in five states and halted construction of two others.
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Shares of Penn National Gaming cratered Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic has forced the country’s largest regional casino owner to close outlets around the country.

On Tuesday alone, Wyomissing, Penn.-based Penn National shuttered all its casinos in Nevada, two casinos in West Virginia, all its casinos in Missouri, a casino in Iowa and a casino in Kansas. It also suspended construction of its planned Hollywood Casino Morgantown and Hollywood Casino York in Pennsylvania.

In a statement announcing the Nevada closures, Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said, “The health and well-being of our guests and team members will always be our paramount concern.”

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, “we have implemented stringent CDC-recommended protocols throughout our enterprise, including increased daily cleaning regimens, maximizing air circulation” and increasing social distancing, Snowden said.

In a statement announcing the construction suspension in Pennsylvania, the company said it was complying with Gov. Tom Wolf’s call for a shutdown of all non-essential business activities.

“We fully support the Governor’s effort,” the CEO said. “We also believe it’s prudent to revisit capital expenditure commitments in order to help preserve liquidity.”

In January, Penn National announced an agreement to purchase 36% of Barstool Sports, a digital media company, for $163 million. Investors initially responded favorably, rocketing Penn National shares up 46% from Jan. 28 to Feb. 13. But since then it has plunged 87%.

At last check, Penn National traded at $4.83, down 34%. For the past 12 months through Tuesday, shares have fallen 79%.