Bally’s Receives Approval To Acquire Tropicana Operations

Written By Marc Meltzer on September 12, 2022 - Last Updated on October 3, 2022
Tropicana casino in Las Vegas may soon have a new operator, Bally's

Nevada Gaming Control (NGC) approved the sale of Tropicana to Bally’s Corp. to receive a license to operate the Tropicana. Bally’s completed the deal to operate the Tropicana on Sept. 26.

At this time, Bally’s says the Tropicana name will remain intact.

Tropicana will become the second Nevada property operated by Bally’s. The company purchased Montebleu in Lake Tahoe last year. The property in northern Nevada is now known as Bally’s Lake Tahoe.

Bally’s currently operates 15 brick-and-mortar casinos around the country. All but one, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, bares the Bally’s name.

Earlier this year, the company won a bid to build a casino in Chicago. The company will open a temporary structure next year. Bally’s Chicago is scheduled to open in 2026.

Different deal structure, Bally’s gets total control

The sale structure for Tropicana is different than some recent Las Vegas casino deals. This deal will give Bally’s total control over the long-term future of the Tropicana.

This deal has been a long time in the making. Bally’s purchased Tropicana in April 2021 for $308 million. The sale was initially expected to close this April.

As a reminder, Bally’s Corp. has nothing to do with Bally’s Las Vegas which is operated by Caesars. There will soon be less confusion as Bally’s Las Vegas will soon be rebranded as Horseshoe Las Vegas.

Bally’s owns both the operations of Tropicana and the structures on top of the land. Gaming & Leisure Properties (GLPI) owns the real estate under the structures. Bally’s will pay GLPI rent to use the land for the next 50 years.

This is slightly different than the Cosmopolitan sale to MGM Resorts which only includes operations. Other companies own the building and land.

The recent sales of The Mirage and Venetian are structured similarly to the Cosmopolitan-MGM sale.

Bally’s could keep all of the buildings and add additional structures. The company could also tear everything down and rebuild from scratch.

The latter is possible but doesn’t seem very realistic. However, adding a new retail complex or baseball stadium would both be possible if Bally’s chooses.

Plans for the Las Vegas Tropicana casino

Bally’s didn’t reveal too many details about the long-term future of the Tropicana. However, the company did share some insight as to how it will operate the historic casino on the Vegas Strip.

The initial plan for Tropicana is simple. As previously mentioned, the company will not rename the Tropicana yet. The company wants the Tropicana to be its flagship property in the pacific timezone.

There could be a name change in the future. It seems likely this will become Bally’s Las Vegas sometime in down the line.

For the time being, the Tropicana casino, restaurants, and entertainment venues will remain the same for a while. Frequent visitors will see many familiar faces as Bally’s plans on keeping all Tropicana employees who want to remain at the property.

It sounds as though Tropicana will retain its hotel partnership with Double Tree for at least another year.

Bally’s Rewards will take over as the casino players club at the Tropicana. Guests will no longer be able to use Tropicana/MyChoice after the changeover is completed.

All members will start with Bally’s Rewards at zero points. M Resort is still a MyChoice casino and guests can use points there after the change to Bally’s Rewards is finished.

There will be a six-month changeover in operations from current owner Penn Entertainment (formerly Penn National Gaming).

Bally’s will take 90-120 days after the deal closes to create a plan for Tropicana. This includes back-end things like how to best integrate Tropicana with its other casinos around the country.

Redeveloping Tropicana is the long-term plan

The company will take another 12-24 months to consider larger redevelopment plans for the entire property. Sometime during that timeframe, Bally’s will reveal a redevelopment plan.

During its meeting with the NGC the company mentioned there will be big changes at the Tropicana in the future. The property has been linked to two different developments using some or all of its land.

There have been rumors about numerous owners of the Tropicana adding retail space to the land. This could face the Vegas Strip.

Land at the Tropicana is one of two Vegas Strip options the Oakland A’s have been considering for a stadium if the team moves to Las Vegas. The other option for the A’s is land next to Circus Circus across from the Sahara.

The A’s should decide whether to stay in Oakland or move to Las Vegas by the end of the year.

Look for Bally’s Sportsbook sometime next year

William Hill will continue to operate the Tropicana sportsbook when Bally’s takes over operations. This could change sooner than other parts of the property.

Bally Bet offers mobile and online sports betting in six other states with legal online sports betting. Bally’s uses technology it acquired from buying and gamesys.

Operating casinos in both northern and southern Nevada will create enough of a user base that the company will be ready to offer its sports betting product in the Silver State.

Bally’s does not offer its retail sportsbook in any of its properties around the country. Outside vendors like William Hill operate sportsbooks in other states where sports betting is legal. For example, FanDuel operates the retail sportsbook inside Bally’s Atlantic City.

It will take some time for the company to set up operations in Nevada as this state has different sports betting regulations than the rest of the country.

There’s no specific launch date for Bally’s sportsbook in Las Vegas yet. The company expects to submit a sportsbook application to the NGCB 60-120 days after the deal closes.

With this as the timeline, Bally’s should submit its sportsbook application for approval by February. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see it available for bettors inside the casino and via a new mobile sports betting app before the end of 2023.

Photo by John Locher/Associated Press
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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