Gaming Commission OK's Penn National's plan to split into two

Penn National Gaming’s plan to split the regional casino giant into two publicly traded companies was approved on Thursday by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The concept would separate 19 of the company’s 29 casinos and racetracks, including the M Resort, into a real estate investment trust, often referred to as a REIT.

Penn National would continue to operate the casinos. The REIT will be known as Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc.

REITs, by law, don’t pay federal income taxes. With real estate the primary source of income, REITs are required to distribute at least 90 percent of their taxable earnings to shareholders.

Penn National President Tim Wilmott told the commission the REIT would offer Penn National increased expansion opportunities. He said the process still requires approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission and other gaming regulatory bodies.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal .com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.