Macau and Singapore continue to dominate gaming headlines, but closer to home there is one shrewd operator continuing to post impressive results.

The U.S. gaming market may not be turning up aces right now, but at least we're not playing against a stacked deck like the past few years. As the economy improves, so are gaming results, and Penn National Gaming (Nasdaq: PENN), one of the sector's highest-quality companies, is proof.

Revenue was up 13.4%, to $630.2 million in the fourth quarter, and adjusted EBITDA increased 10%, to $132.9 million. Impressively, 12 of 15 properties had increased adjusted EBITDA from last year. For the full year, adjusted EBITDA increased slightly to $586 million.

As competitors like Ameristar Casinos (Nasdaq: ASCA) and Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD) struggle under burgeoning debt loads, Penn has been able to take advantage of opportunities to expand.

Future growth in Las Vegas
The M Resort in Las Vegas, where Penn National holds the outstanding debt, is closer to becoming a contributor to shareholders. Management is negotiating with equity holders and completing Nevada gaming approval to take over ownership of the property. The company was even able to pay down $85 million of the $145 million withdrawn from its revolving credit line to purchase M Resort debt.

We don't know quite what the impact of The M Resort will be, but the upside potential of this $1 billion casino is high considering Penn only paid $230.5 million for it. We do know Penn got a much better deal for its new casino than MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM) got when it built CityCenter and started taking writedowns immediately. A well-timed bet can be the key to any game of chance.

A peek at the hole cards
Management was optimistic but lived up to its reputation, giving conservative guidance for 2011. Penn expects earnings per share of $1.48, while analysts' crystal ball says $1.53 per share. Since Penn National has outperformed expectations for the past four quarters, missing analysts' 2011 expectations by a few cents shouldn't be viewed as a big deal. Unless the economy collapses again, the company should be able to pull a few cards out of its sleeve and beat expectations again in 2011.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

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