Final decision on Sept. 22

Nevada regulators grant Bally's $308M acquisition of Tropicana Las Vegas initial approval

Reading time 2:32 min

The Nevada Gaming Control Board unanimously recommended on Wednesday approval and licensing of Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corp. to acquire the operations of the Tropicana Las Vegas casino and hotel on the Strip. The company is set to purchase the operations of the property from Penn Entertainment for $308 million, in a deal first announced in April 2021.

Board members questioned Bally’s executives for nearly two hours before voting to approve the transaction, reports Las Vegas Review-Journal. Once the deal is completed, Bally’s said the Tropicana would become the company’s western flagship property. The business is already licensed in Nevada for Bally’s Lake Tahoe, in Northern Nevada.

The Tropicana deal also includes a land lease agreement with Penn-affiliated Gaming and Leisure Properties, a real estate investment trust, which will require Bally’s to pay $10.5 million a year for 50 years. The Board’s recommendation for the purchase will be considered for final approval by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Sept. 22. The deal could close on Sept. 25 or 26.

While regulators had many questions for Bally’s executives, given the company has expanded rapidly in the last two years, Board members were satisfied that the business’ oversight was adequate. During that time period, the company opened Bally’s Evansville in Indiana; Bally’s Quad Cities in Rock Island, Illinois; and it was chosen to build the first Chicago casino.

Rendering for Bally's Chicago casino

George Papanier, president of retail for Bally’s, told regulators the company would open a temporary casino in Chicago in June, and complete the $1.7 billion resort –to be located at the former Chicago Tribune site on the Chicago River– by the end of 2026, reports Review-Journal. But the company is also targeting other projects amid its dramatic retail expansion.

The company has begun construction on a casino in State College, Pennsylvania; and has $100 million in remodeling projects at its Atlantic City and Rhode Island properties, as well as a $50 million remodeling plan at Bally’s Kansas City. Bally’s now has 14 regional hotel-casinos in the U.S. And as for Las Vegas, the company is contemplating whether it wants to upgrade or take on a complete redevelopment of the land.

“Over the last several years, we've been very busy growing Bally’s footprint,” George Papanier told regulators, according to The Nevada Independent. “We view Tropicana Las Vegas as an opportunity for a flagship property for our western region.”

Executives for Bally’s said operations of the Rat Pack-era hotel-casino would transition from Penn over the next six months, and that no major real estate improvements at the property would occur in the next 12 to 24 months. The staffing level at the resort is set to remain the same, with no changes planned to the restaurant lineup in the immediate future.

As for the Tropicana name, Papanier indicated during Wednesday’s meeting with regulators that the resort would initially retain it. However, as the company undertakes its transition to Bally’s, it could review other options. The property’s sportsbook will continue to be operated by William Hill until the company is ready to transition to a Bally’s-branded amenity.

The casino is eventually set to move to the company’s own loyalty program, Bally Rewards Club. Existing Tropicana customers could either take on the new program or use their Penn Entertainment mychoice loyalty points at that operator’s M Resort property.

The Tropicana site has been reported to be a potential location to house a $1 billion stadium for Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s, should the team choose to relocate from the Bay Area. However, there was no mention of the baseball stadium during the meeting, reports Nevada Independent.

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