Facade is rosy again: Can Bally’s casino’s future be, too?

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A year after new owners took over Bali’s casino in Atlantic City, a $100 million facelift is underway, adding hotel rooms, casino floors and more

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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Perhaps nothing epitomizes the spotty performance of Bali’s casinos in Atlantic City in recent years better than the mismatched replacement windows in its glass façade, the blue spots that line the rest of the rose-tinted glass. stood between

Fixing was one of the first things Phil Juliano, executive vice president of the Rhode Island-based company, which had bought the casino a year earlier, set out to do.

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In recent months, the old windows have been replaced, and the façade is now uniformly pink.

Bally’s Corp. U.S. officials expect the forecast for the casino as well. The company’s chairman of the board, Sohyung Kim, evaluated its performance in its first year under the new owners.

“The jury is out, I would say,” Kim told the Associated Press. “We always knew Atlantic City was going to be a challenge, and so we structured the deal so that we had a lot of flexibility. This is a city that hasn’t reinvested in itself in the way it needs to.”

Bally’s, formerly known as Twin Rivers Worldwide Holdings, bought Atlantic City Casino on November 18 last year as part of an ambitious acquisition spree of casino, media and technology companies, a nationwide gambling, broadcast and It was bought with the aim of putting together a sports betting powerhouse.

It paid Caesars Entertainment $25 million for the property, and promised New Jersey gambling regulators it would spend an additional $100 million on renovations over four to five years, including a badly needed hotel room makeover. .

“We will be the most aggressive marketing company in Atlantic City, and we will prove it,” said Juliano. “We also feel that the quality of your facility needs to match that aggressive marketing.”

Work is already underway on new hotel rooms, a new lobby and bar, and a new high-end room opening early next month. The casino has opened five new restaurants, a FanDuel sports book, reconfigured the casino floor and brought in new slot machines.

In addition to physical improvements, the purchase gives Bali access to New Jersey’s thriving Internet gambling market and its nation-leading sports betting market.

Bali ranks among the nine casinos in Atlantic City in terms of gambling revenue so far this year. In the first 10 months of 2021, Bally’s has won $120 million, up from $83 million won in the same period last year.

In contrast, the market leader Borgata has won $914 million in the same time frame.

Jane Bokuniewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, who studies the Atlantic City casino industry, said Bali’s Corp. “has made great strides toward reviving a once-thriving property that has lost some of its luster in recent years.” Is.”

“It may be a while before the assets are ready to run, but they are certainly headed in the right direction, with every reason to hope they will gain momentum as more planned improvement projects are completed,” she said. said.

In interviews with the , customers offered mixed reviews of Bally’s performance over the past year. Some praised the new restaurant and popular summer beach bar, while others said the hotel rooms still leave a lot to be desired.

“I think Bali is making the right move overall,” said Vineland’s Jack Uniglich. “Their new high-limit room has great ambiance, and if they plan to remodel the rest of the casino in the same design, it’s going to rival anything in AC. Once the rooms are redone and the rest of the resorts get remodeled, I think it will be in a very competitive position.”

Vineland’s Wyatt Ballinger had a different experience last year, calling the property “disgusting and unwanted.”

“I checked into one room with cigarettes in the ashtray, dropped and rotten food in the fridge, then went into another room, when I walked in I found an employee lying on the bed with shoes on,” he said.

But the most commonly voiced complaint was last October’s termination of player loyalty perks accrued under previous ownership in favor of Bally’s own branded loyalty program. The company says the Switch was needed to separate from Caesars Entertainment.

Bali’s board chairman Kim said that at least, the value of the property is greater than its boardwalk real estate. But he is optimistic that the casino will prove to be a profitable investment.

“We’re spending money to get it to the level we think it deserves, and we think we’ll get a return on that money,” he said.

Bally has 14 casinos in Colorado, Missouri, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Nevada, and has recently submitted two bids to develop a casino in Chicago.

“There was a time when we bought eight of the last 10 casinos we sold in America,” Kim said. “When others are intimidated, it’s often a good time to trade.”


Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WayneParryAC


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