What happened 

Shares of Gaming and Leisure Properties (NASDAQ:GLPI), a casino-focused real estate investment trust (REIT), plunged an incredible 37% in trading during March, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as investors abandoned REITs in general. Performance has been mixed in the first week of April, but early today, shares were trading up 6.8% for the month. 

So what 

Most of Gaming and Leisure Properties' casinos closed their doors in mid to late March as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. That could eventually put pressure on resorts financially if rent becomes a big burden for operations. 

Slot machines on a casino floor.

Image source: Getty Images.

To alleviate some financial stress, Penn National sold the real estate assets of the Tropicana Las Vegas to Gaming and Leisure Properties for a noncash rent payment of $337.5 million. This effectively covers rent for about five months, saving Penn National significant cash that it may need later in the year. 

Now what 

Casino stocks have had a terrible time on the market over the last few months as operations have shut down in most parts of the world. Eventually, that financial trouble will spill over to REITs. I don't think investors should count on Gaming and Leisure Properties' 9.5% dividend yield to be sustainable this year given the economic backdrop. But long term, this is still a great REIT to own, and buyers should definitely keep it on their watch list. 

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.