Executives with Bally’s Corp. hope the forecast for the casino is rosy, too. Soohyung Kim, the company’s chair of the board, evaluated its performance in its first year under new owners. “The jury is out, I would say,” Kim told The Associated Press. “We always knew that Atlantic City was a challenge, and so we structured the deal so that we had a lot of flexibility. It is a city that has not reinvested in itself the way it needs to.”
Fixing that was one of the first things Phil Juliano, executive vice president of the Rhode Island-based company that bought the casino a year ago, set out to do. In recent months, the out-of-place windows have been replaced, and the facade is now uniformly rosy. Bally’s, formerly known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings, bought the Atlantic City casino on Nov. 18 last year as part of an ambitious acquisition spree of casinos, media and technology companies aimed at putting together a nationwide gambling, broadcasting and sports betting powerhouse.
It paid $25 million for the property to Caesars Entertainment, and promised New Jersey gambling regulators it would spend an additional $100 million on renovations over four to five years, including badly needed hotel room makeovers. “We will be the most aggressive marketing company in Atlantic City, and we will prove that,” Juliano said. “We also realize that the quality of your facility has to match up with that aggressive marketing.”
Work is already under way on new hotel rooms, a new lobby and bar, and a new high-limits room will open early next month. The casino has opened five new restaurants, a FanDuel sports book, reconfigured the casino floor and brought in new slot machines. Aside from the physical improvements, the purchase gives Bally’s access to New Jersey’s thriving internet gambling market and its nation-leading sports betting market. Bally’s ranks last among Atlantic City’s nine casinos in terms of gambling revenue so far this year. Over the first 10 months of 2021, Bally’s has won $120 million, up from the $83 million it won over the same period last year.
In contrast, the market-leading Borgata has won $914 million over that same time frame. Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, which studies the Atlantic City casino industry, said Bally’s Corp. “has taken great steps toward revitalizing a once-thriving property that has in recent years lost some of its luster.” “It may be a while yet before the property is ready to run, but they are certainly walking in the right direction, with every reason to expect that they will gain momentum as more of the planned improvement projects are completed,” she said.
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