Bally’s Corp. Follows NJ, PA Expansion With Tropicana Las Vegas Acquisition

Written By Martin Harris on April 15, 2021 - Last Updated on December 16, 2022
Bally's Busy With Expansion In PA, NJ and Now Las Vegas

The Bally’s Corp. continued its wheeling and dealing this week, with its latest move securing the company a spot on the famed Las Vegas Strip.

On Tuesday, Bally’s announced it had acquired the Tropicana Las Vegas Hotel and Casino from the Penn National spin-off Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. in a deal totaling approximately $308 million.

The acquisition involved other transactions as well, and comes amid other expansion plans by Bally’s including into Pennsylvania.

Bally’s lands property on famed Vegas Strip

The acquisition secures Bally’s a South Strip locale. (Bally’s does not own Bally’s Las Vegas on Flamingo Road; Caesars Entertainment does.)

“Landing a preeminent spot on the Las Vegas Strip is a key step for us,” said George Papanier, Bally’s president and CEO.

As the Associated Press reports, the transaction will not complete until early 2022. The non-land assets totaled $150 million of the cost. Meanwhile Bally’s will lease the property from Gaming and Leisure Properties for $10.5 million annually for 50 years.

The agreement involves two other Bally’s properties as well in Black Hawk, Colorado and Rock Island, Illinois. Both are similar sale-and-leaseback transactions whereby Bally’s pays Gaming and Leisure Properties $150 million up front and annual rent of $12 million going forward.

First built in 1957, the Tropicana has changed hands a few times over recent years. In 2015, Penn National Gaming purchased it, then in April 2020 sold it to Gaming and Leisure Properties. In the latter deal, Penn National agreed to continue as the operating license holder for two more years or until the resort was sold.

Today the Tropicana’s two Paradise and Island towers contain nearly 1,500 hotel rooms. Besides the casino with 50,000 square feet in gaming space, the property also includes a theater and convention center. The land covers 35 acres at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue.

At present, Bally’s owns 12 casinos in eight different states. However when current acquisitions complete, the company’s reach will expand to 15 casinos in 11 states, the AP explains.

Tropicana acquisition latest Bally’s move, including PA casino plan

One of those new states will be Pennsylvania after Bally’s kicked off 2021 announcing an agreement to build a mini-casino near Unionville and Penn State University.

In that agreement, Bally’s has partnered with PSU graduate Ira Lubin, a Philadelphia-based real estate and private equity manager.

Lubin had successfully bid to receive a Category 4 Slot Machine license in Sept. 2020. Bally’s says construction will take approximately one year to complete by the first half of 2022. The $120 million property will contain 750 slot machines and 30 table games.

Meanwhile over in New Jersey, Bally’s Atlantic City has begun a planned five-year renovation at a cost of $90 million. Bally’s completed its acquisition of the Boardwalk property last year for a total purchase price of $25 million.

Bally’s planning PA online presence too

In addition to expanding its retail presence, Bally’s seeks to become a larger player in the online realm as well. To that end, Bally’s this week additionally announced an agreement to partner with the UK-based online gaming operator Gamesys Group.

These latest deals follow the late-2020 acquisition of the Bally’s brand by Twin River which chose to press ahead under the familiar Bally’s name. Before that deal closed, Twin River had already announced its intention to launch a Bally’s-branded online sportsbook.

The company acquired the sports betting platform Bet.Works, thereby enabling the creation of the new Bally Bets online sportsbook with an app available for both Apple (iOS) and Android devices. Bally Bets could launch in multiple states in 2021.

The operator also has its Bally Casino PA in the works.

Pennsylvania sports bettors can keep an eye out for both a retail sportsbook at the new Unionville mini-casino and the launch of Bally Bets in PA, pending approvals.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/John Locher

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Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. In 2019, his book Poker & Pop Culture was published by D&B Books.

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