According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, the global casino gaming industry was worth an estimated $7.3 billion last year and is projected to reach nearly $12 billion by 2030 -- suggesting an annual growth rate of 6.16% during that period.

Considering that the casino market is still rebounding from its pandemic-induced lull, casino companies and investors alike stand to benefit from long-term industry growth. With that in mind, I've compared two casino stocks to determine which makes a more opportune buy in today's market.

The case for Wynn Resorts

After posting record earnings for its North American properties in fourth-quarter and full-year 2022, Wynn Resorts (WYNN -2.06%) also resumed operations at its Macao resort earlier this year.

In Q4 2022, the Las Vegas-based operator delivered a record $219 million in adjusted property income on the basis of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, and restructuring or rent costs (EBITDAR). The figure marked an 18% improvement over the same period in 2021.

For the year, Wynn Las Vegas enjoyed a 51% EBITDAR increase over 2021, bringing in $801 million. During February's Q4 earnings conference call, Wynn CEO Craig Billings stated: "I'm confident that this is an all-time record for a stand-alone Las Vegas Strip property."

Despite the success of Wynn Las Vegas, Q4 operating revenue actually fell 4.6% year over year. But interestingly, while Wynn Resorts took a loss of $177 million in Q4 2021 (with less revenue), the company profited $32 million in Q4 2022. So what happened?

Wynn Las Vegas observed success across the board last quarter, including in non-gaming categories including food and beverage, entertainment, and retail. Combined with a 69% jump in casino slot handle compared to 2019 levels, Wynn's Las Vegas property finished Q4 with an adjusted property EBITDAR margin of 37.4%. 

While Q4 showed promise, Wynn ultimately finished 2022 with a net loss of $424 million. Still, that's a marked improvement over 2021's net loss of $756 million, and things continue to improve for the company.

For example, during the Lunar New Year holiday in Macao that began in January, Wynn's Macao resort generated roughly $4 million in normalized EBITDAR per day -- its strongest performance since the pandemic first hit.

The case for Caesars Entertainment

After enjoying strong demand across all verticals last quarter, Caesars Entertainment (CZR -4.97%) generated record-high earnings in its Las Vegas and regional segments.

Same-store sales produced the most remarkable year-over-year result in Q4, with same-store adjusted EBITDA up 65% to reach $957 million. Q4 GAAP net revenue improved almost 8% over 2021's result, reaching $2.8 billion. 

For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, Caesars' occupancy reached 95.5% in Q4. Both Las Vegas and regional segments set all-time high EBITDA records last quarter as well. Caesars Entertainment owns a scattering of resorts across the U.S., as well as three international properties, but does not currently operate in the Macao gaming market.

Digital results also continue to impress, and Q4 produced 2022's best three months. Speaking on Caesars' digital achievements, CFO Eric Hession said: "I'm pleased that in Q4 year-over-year, our volume was up 7%, hold up 100 basis points, and promotional expense down 43%."

The combination led to Caesars' best quarterly digital revenue result to date and 104% year-over-year revenue growth. Despite revenue gains, however, Caesars Digital finished Q4 with a net loss of $35 million. CEO Tom Reeg considers Caesars' digital segment "a critical component" of the company's growth strategy, and anticipates it being "EBITDA positive" by the end of this year.

Although Caesars finished last quarter with a net loss of $148 million, it made substantial improvement from 2021's fourth-quarter loss of $434 million. And forward-looking occupancy rates surpass 2019 levels -- with both higher room and amenities pricing. 

Which casino stock is a better buy?

Since each company took a net loss last year, I've compared their price-to-sales ratios (P/S), price-to-book ratios (P/B), year-over-year revenue performance last year, expanding debt levels, and debt-to-equity ratios.

Metric Wynn Resorts Caesars Entertainment
Market cap $12.2 billion $9.35 billion
Price-to-sales ratio 3.24 0.86
Price-to-book ratio 13.94 2.54
Year-over-year revenue performance (2021-2022) (23.5%) 25.8%
Percent long-term debt has changed since 2019 14.8% 444%
Debt-to-equity ratio (annual) 16.14 3.44

Data source: Yahoo! Finance, Seeking Alpha, YCharts, Company Reports.

Caesars Entertainment has more attractive P/S and P/B ratios, and generated significantly more revenue last year than in 2021. However, the company has taken on a massive debt load, adding risk for investors.

On the other hand, Wynn Resorts has less appealing P/S and P/B ratios and delivered substantially less revenue last year than in 2021, but has managed to keep its liabilities under control. This presents a bit of a stalemate.

To break the tie, the company with the better (lower) debt-to-equity ratio should be declared today's winner -- and that's Caesars Entertainment. If the management team at Caesars can keep the company on track toward profitability, the stock should reflect that in due time.