Caesars Sports Betting, iGaming Deserve More Credit, Says Morgan Stanley

By | August 26, 2021

Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) is making clear its intent to be a force in internet casinos and online sports wagering. But those ambitions and the company’s ability to execute on them may not be getting enough credit among investors, argues an analyst.

Caesars Sportsbook
An advertisement for the new Caesars Sportsbook app. An analyst sees the company being a force in sports betting. (Image: USBettingReport.com)

In a note to clients today, Morgan Stanley analyst Thomas Allen says downloads of the Caesars Sportsbook, which debuted earlier this month, are soaring.

Caesars has seen a meaningful inflection in app download market share since launching its new sports betting app on 8/2, going from seven percent to 21 percent share,” said the analyst.

Enthusiasm for new sports wagering apps, particularly those from well-known brands, is common in the industry. For operators, the key is retaining customers, many of whom were likely lured by generous sign-on bonuses.

Morgan Stanley’s Allen, one of the most widely followed gaming analysts on Wall Street, rates Caesars “overweight,” with a $127 price target. That’s above the consensus forecast of $123 and implies more than 30 percent upside from the Aug. 25 close.

Why App Download Data Matter for Caesars

A sports wagering app is like any other: A customer can download to a smartphone, but it doesn’t mean the app will be regularly used.

That said, data indicates bettors seeking wagering apps usually fund those accounts, confirming there is some correlation between downloads and usage. Morgan Stanley goes further, noting there are ties between an operator’s percentage of app downloads and sports betting market share, adding that those factors later become reflected in stock prices.

“If higher share is sustained, this should bode well for actual betting share. Following a recent sell-off, we see CZR stock as very attractive here,” said Allen.

After reaching highs around $113 in June, Caesars followed other gaming equities lower, slumping to the low $80s amid fears that the delta variant of the coronavirus would stunt casino visitation. However, the group is roaring back, and Caesars is one of the leaders of the pack with a 15 percent gain over the past week.

Caesars Committed to iGaming, Sports Betting

Caesars has some ground to make up in the online casinos and sports wagering spaces. Regarding domestic sports betting, there’s a slew of players. But FanDuel, BetMGM, and DraftKings have dominant market share.

In the iGaming space, BetMGM is leveraging its recognizable brand to rank as the leader in most of the states in which it’s permitted to offer internet casinos.

None of that means Caesars will go quietly into the night and cede share to rivals. Fresh off the $3.69 billion acquisition of William Hill — a deal orchestrated to up its sports wagering profile — Caesars is pledging to spend $1 billion on iGaming and sports betting over the next several years. A significant portion of that expenditure could be covered by the upcoming sale of William Hill’s international assets, for which Caesars is hoping to announce a buyer in the fourth quarter.

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