What happened 

Shares of casino supplier International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT) fell Thursday after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings. As of 3:13 p.m. EST, the stock had lost 15.2%.

So what

Revenue for the quarter fell 3% to $1.32 billion and adjusted operating income fell 4% to $281 million, although adjusted net income per share was up 40% to $0.88. Revenue fell slightly short of analysts' average estimate of $1.33 billion, and earnings easily topped the $0.47-per-share estimate, but that didn't matter much today. 

A slot machine shown coming up all 7s.

Image source: Getty Images.

What investors have to be incredibly worried about is the company's $7.57 billion in net debt, which could soon come to strangle the company if rates rise. And with revenue on the decline, there's increased worry that IGT won't generate enough cash to pay its debts. 

Now what

IGT has been on a buying spree for years, but management hasn't made paying down debt a big priority. In fact, it declared a dividend of $0.20 per share along with reporting earnings, so it's accepting the risk associated with debt. That may be a bad idea, especially considering the fact that interest rates are already on the rise and the gaming industry doesn't have much room for further expansion around the globe. The decline in shares is understandable today, and unless IGT finds a way to expand margins or grow revenue, I would be wary of the stock in the future. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.