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Las Vegas-based Union Gaming acquired by global real estate brokerage

Updated June 30, 2021 - 6:59 pm

A global real estate brokerage with a big office in Las Vegas has acquired a local casino advisory firm in a gamble that casino property deals will only grow in popularity.

CBRE Group announced Wednesday that it acquired Union Gaming. Terms were not disclosed.

Founded in 2008, Union Gaming is based in Las Vegas, has an office in Hong Kong and provides investment banking services. The firm says it has raised $28 billion in capital and worked on $2 billion worth of mergers and acquisitions.

Las Vegas’ casino real estate market has seen plenty of action in the past several years, and CBRE’s acquisition comes as the tourism industry, after getting pummeled by the coronavirus outbreak, starts to regain its footing.

According to a news release, Union Gaming staff and CBRE’s Las Vegas-based casino investment sales team, led by Michael Parks, will form a new group.

Union Gaming co-founder Bill Lerner will serve as CBRE’s global head of gaming investment banking, the announcement said.

CBRE says it has more than 100,000 employees serving clients in more than 100 countries. Including the new staff from Union Gaming, CBRE has 80 employees in Las Vegas.

Pete Schippits, president of CBRE’s Mountain-Northwest division, told the Review-Journal that Union Gaming has built “deep relationships” across the casino industry globally and boasts top-notch research capabilities.

Pairing that with CBRE’s casino brokers “bolsters our capacity” in a fast-growing industry, he said.

Over the past several years, individual resorts in Las Vegas have traded hands for nine figures or more, and casino operators such as MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment spun off their real estate into investment trusts that serve as the properties’ landlords.

Moreover, some resorts have sold for huge sums and were then rented back.

In 2019, MGM sold the Bellagio’s real estate to New York financial giant The Blackstone Group for more than $4 billion and leased it back for an initial annual rent of $245 million.

Most casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere don’t have a separate landlord, but real estate investment trusts’ expansion in the industry is still in the “early innings,” Lerner told the Review-Journal.

“We think there’s a significant pipeline of opportunity for REIT transactions,” he said.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.