weather icon Mostly Clear

Bally’s acquisition of Tropicana approved by Gaming Commission

Bally’s Corp. was cleared on Thursday to close on its purchase of the Tropicana Las Vegas by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

After a one-hour hearing, commissioners unanimously approved the Providence, Rhode Island, company’s $308 million acquisition from Penn Entertainment Inc., a deal first announced in April 2021.

Bally’s is not affiliated with the Bally’s resort about a mile north of the Tropicana on Las Vegas Boulevard. That property, owned by Caesars Entertainment Inc., is expected to rebrand with the Horseshoe name.

Bally’s intends to make the Tropicana its western flagship operation.

The land on which the resort sits will continue to be owned by real estate investment trust Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc., which is affiliated with Penn Entertainment. Bally’s will pay GLPI $10.5 million a year in a 50-year lease agreement.

The deal is expected to formally close Sunday or Monday.

Tropicana customers can expect to see some immediate changes as the casino transitions from Penn Entertainment’s mychoice loyalty program to the Bally’s Rewards program. Within two days, signs are expected to be posted in the casino alerting players to the change. Points won’t be transferred, and mychoice rewards will be allowed to be used at the M Resort, which is operated by Penn.

Most other aspects of the transaction will be unchanged for some time.

Executives said all workers at the Tropicana will continue to have jobs with the same pay and benefit levels as they had under Penn.

Bally’s plans to strategize on a long-term plan for 90 to 180 days and won’t likely make any improvements to the Tropicana for one or two years.

There are no immediate plans to change the name of the property. The company’s Northern Nevada property, Bally’s Lake Tahoe, was known as MontBleu but quickly took on the Bally’s brand last year.

Bally’s, which has 17 casinos in 11 states, has been on a massive growth path for the last two years.

George Papanier, president of retail at Bally’s, said in the past two years the company has opened Bally’s Evansville in Indiana, Bally’s Quad Cities in Rock Island, Illinois, and the company was the successful bidder to build the first and only casino in Chicago.

Papanier said the company would open a temporary casino in Chicago in June, and complete the $1.7 billion resort at the former Chicago Tribune site on the Chicago River by the end of 2026.

The company has begun constructing a casino in State College, Pennsylvania, and has remodeling projects worth $100 million for its Atlantic City and Rhode Island properties as well as a $50 million remodeling project at Bally’s Kansas City.

Executives made no reference to the company’s ongoing relationship with the Oakland Athletics.

After Bally’s Gaming Control Board hearing on Sept. 7, Papanier said the company maintains contact with the baseball team.

“They’re continuing to engage with us and hopefully there will be an opportunity where we could do a joint development,” he said in an interview.

The Tropicana was one of the early sites the A’s had their eyes on when they first began investigating Las Vegas as a potential relocation destination.

Bally’s Corp. shares, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, fell $2.06, 8.9 percent, to $20.98 a share on volume slightly below the daily average.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.