What happened 

Shares of International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT) fell as much as 14.1% in trading Thursday after the company reported fourth-quarter results. At 1:10 p.m. EST, the stock was still down 13.4% and showed no signs of recovering. 

So what

Fourth-quarter revenue fell 6% to $1.27 billion and net loss was $102.0 million, or $0.50 per share. Adjusted for a $120 million noncash impairment charge, the company made a profit of $0.24 per share. Revenue was in line with estimates, but earnings were well below the $0.36 that analysts expected. 

Slot machines lined up in a casino.

Image source: Getty Images.

The problem with falling revenue and disappointing bottom-line results is that it increases the risk posed by $7.8 billion of debt on the balance sheet. That leverage looks like a huge hurdle if profitability doesn't improve quickly. 

Now what

Falling short of earnings estimates isn't always the end of the world, but it's especially troubling for companies with a lot of leverage. In the gaming industry, there doesn't seem to be a lot of growth in general right now, with very few large casino projects and no real need for most operators to upgrade equipment. Sports betting was the one ray of hope for growth, but IGT hasn't seen significant growth in the segment lately and that's diminished hopes for growth.