The last six months have been so hectic for Bally’s Corp. — which didn’t even that name at the start of the whirlwind — that Thursday’s fourth-quarter earnings report was as useful for listing all of the company’s changes as it was for posting bottom-line financial figures.
For the quarter, Bally’s had a net income of $20.2 million — better than Wall Street had forecast — and revenue of $118.1 million, or slightly below Street projections. The company reported a loss of $5.5 million in 2020.
Now to the review of what has changed since Nov. 9, when Rhode Island-based Twin River Worldwide Holdings became Bally’s — a rebranding that the company says “will support the Company’s drive to become the first omni-channel gaming company to seamlessly integrate and operate physical casinos with digital solutions.”
Within nine days in November, three notable announcements took place:
- The company announced the closing on its acquisition of Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino from Caesars Entertainment for $25 million. As part of the deal, the company also received three valuable sports betting and five valuable iGaming skins in New Jersey.
- Bally’s spent another $125 million to acquire Bet.Works, a sports betting platform provider to operators in Colorado, New Jersey, Indiana, and Iowa. This deal, expected to close in 2nd Q 2020, was designed to “allow the Company to become the premier, full-service, vertically integrated sports betting and iGaming company in the U.S., with a B2B2C business model and physical casinos and online gaming solutions united under a single, preeminent brand.” This is leading to the formation of separate divisions: Bally’s Casinos and Bally’s Interactive.
- Sinclair Broadcast Group became a “long-term strategic partner.” Sinclair owns 19 regional sports networks — each of which have rebranded under the Bally’s name to replace the “FOX Sports” brand of RSNs — as well as The Tennis Channel. That branding “will make Bally’s a common name in sports fans’ households across the U.S.,” a company executive said.
More hard-charging Bally’s moves
A month later, Bally’s closed on its $140 million acquisition of Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport, also bought from Caesars.
The report also goes beyond the end of the fourth quarter in summarizing new developments.
On Jan. 4, Bally’s involvement was announced in a $120 million Pennsylvania casino project near Penn State University in Centre County, with Bally’s holding a majority interest in the development and 100% control of the retail and mobile sports betting and online casino operations. A mid-2022 opening is the announced goal.
Then on Feb. 8, Bally’s acquired SportCaller, which it describes as “a leading global B2B free-to-play game provider.” The plan is to offer free-to-play games and also “expand the Company’s strong geographic presence beyond national borders, as SportCaller has more than 100 games in over 20 languages, and over 30 sports across 37 countries.”
Recapping “remarkable” 2020
President and CEO George Papanier justifably called 2020 “a truly remarkable year for Bally’s.”
The launch of the FanDuel Sportsbook at Bally’s in Atlantic City, Papanier said, “represents the first of several planned capital improvement projects at the property.”
A decrease in fourth-quarter revenue of 9.4% compared to 4Q 2019 was blamed on “various state limitations as a result of COVID-19, including the mandated closure of both Rhode Island properties for three weeks.” Those casinos finally reopened on Dec. 22.
Another issue was $15 million of storm damage at Hard Rock Biloxi casino from Hurricane Zeta.
Finally, there also were details about a Garden State property.
As Papanier noted, “Historically, Bally’s Atlantic City has incurred losses during the fourth and first quarters of the calendar year and makes a majority of its profit in the summer months. The combination of this seasonality, COVID related restrictions and increased costs attributable to IT and marketing system overhead, resulted in higher than expected losses in the fourth quarter.
“The Company was able to convert its systems in mid-February 2021 and has commenced work on several capital improvement initiatives, including opening of the new sportsbook with its partner FanDuel, and believes the property is now on track to recovery and growth.”