Bally’s Corp. can now aggressively move ahead with plans to renovate its Atlantic City casino. Entering New Jersey’s lucrative online gaming market is in the plans, too.

The NJ Casino Control Commission unanimously approved Bally’s Corp.’s petition for a full gaming license. The news comes following the Aug. 17 hearing.

Minimum of $100 million over five years

As part of the approval to own and operate Bally’s Atlantic City, state regulators stipulated that at least $100 million be reinvested into the Boardwalk casino hotel. This would be over the next five years.

“Capital improvements at Bally’s AC are critical to improve its quality and enhance its customer appeal. Bally’s has shown a willingness to invest in Bally’s AC to make it more attractive, more competitive, and more profitable,” said James Plousis, NJCCC chairman.

The prior owners — Caesars Entertainment and VICI Properties — will reimburse the new owners $30 million of the $100 million.

More workers needed at Bally’s AC

Additionally, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement recommended increasing employment levels at Bally’s AC.

The company agreed to both conditions at the license hearing.

“The Atlantic City casino industry has been a powerful economic engine and job creator for the state since its inception,” Plousis said. “Ensuring that the casinos maintain adequate staffing levels to safeguard gaming integrity is a critical regulatory function.”

Upping the ante on the Boardwalk

Bally’s Corp. (formally Twin River Worldwide Holdings) purchased the AC casino for $25 million in April 2020.

Seven months later, the Rhode Island-based company was granted interim authorization by NJ regulators.

At the time, the new owner agreed to a $90-million expenditure plan. However, those plans quickly changed. We’re talking about a 42-year-old property.

Bally’s opened its doors in December 1979.  Only Resorts Atlantic City (May 1978) and Caesars Atlantic City (June 1979) are older.

So improving the look is key to Bally’s future success.

“We expect Bally AC to remain a priority and anticipate an aggressive campaign to reintroduce the property to the market and create an atmosphere of excitement, energy, and rebirth,” Plousis said.

Breakdown of Bally’s spending plan

According to testimony, $35 million will be spent on hotel rooms. The remaining $65 million is being spent on various other renovations, additions, and upgrades.

Hotel room renovations will begin Sept. 17.

In terms of timing, here is the breakdown:

  • $25 million will be spent this year
  • $30 million by the end of 2022
  • $35 million in 2023
  • The final $15 million is slated for years four and five

The FanDuel Sportsbook is not part of the larger capital improvement plan.

However, multiple dining concepts, including Jerry Longo’s Meatballs & Martinis and Water Dog, fit the bill.

A new high-limit gaming space is currently under construction. And plans for a new lobby bar and pool and spa are in the works.

Stay tuned as details are coming soon.

If you’re looking for teaser images, check out the walls when arriving via the self-park entrance.

Sports betting, online casino coming soon

The long-term goal is to become a leading omnichannel casino operator, according to Phil Juliano, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Bally’s Corporate.

In other words,  the company wants to offer customers both a land-based and online casino experience.

New Jersey and Atlantic City are critical components to both.

Bally’s Corp. is nearing completion of a $3.4 billion acquisition of Gamesys, a London-based online software development and gaming company.

“We’re an opportunistic company,” said Bally’s CEO George Papanier. “We look for opportunities that not only will put us in the markets where we feel that we can compete and obviously we feel there’s upside to that acquisition but also markets that provide us access to the growing i-gaming as well as sports betting space.”

AP Photo/Wayne Parry 

About

David Danzis is an award-winning journalist who has covered business, politics, government, education, and sports in New Jersey. Most recently, he wrote about Atlantic City casinos, online gaming, and sports betting for The Press of Atlantic City. David is a graduate of Rutgers University.