'Bad times': Several major casinos saddled with heavy debt

Several major casino companies in the USA are grappling with heavy debt taken on in better economic times, and industry observers expect more as the list of states vying for gamblers' dollars grows.

The biggest operator, Caesars Entertainment with 52 properties worldwide including the Harrah's chain, is working with its lenders to manage $22 billion in debt tied to when the company was taken private in 2006, according to gaming analysts in Reno.

MGM Resorts International, whose properties include the Circus Circus name, Bellagio and New York-New York, has $13.6 billion of its own debt, its fourth-quarter 2011 earnings report shows.

Tribal-owned Foxwoods in Connecticut, the USA's biggest casino, defaulted in 2009 and is restructuring a debt estimated at $2 billion.

In Las Vegas, Station Casinos emerged last summer after two years in bankruptcy court, and the bankrupt Hooters Hotel was bought at auction earlier this month by its main lender, an affiliate Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, court documents show.

In Reno, the 2,000-room Grand Sierra Resort was taken over by its chief lender in 2009 and the Siena Hotel Spa & Casino went bankrupt in 2010, reopening last year under new owners.

Now Reno's 35-story Silver Legacy Resort Casino is scrambling to refinance a $142.8 million mortgage note due Thursday.

“It's not so much bad management on their part. It's bad times," Reno gaming analyst Ken Adams said of the struggling properties.

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