Bally’s purchase of MontBleu in Lake Tahoe approved by Nevada Gaming Commission Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · March 19, 2021 at 6:58 am Bally’s Corp. has its sights set on launching an omnichannel network this year that includes sports betting, daily fantasy sports, igaming and social gaming. Company Chairman Soo Kim, a co-founder of the hedge fund Standard General that owns 39% of Bally’s and fueled the Rhode Island-based company’s rapid expansion over the past two years, told the Nevada Gaming Commission Thursday casinos will always at the forefront of endeavors. “Even though we are spending time on technology, we believe in the physical experience of the casino,” Kim told regulators during a hearing to approve the company’s purchase of the MontBleu Resort in Lake Tahoe. Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim testifies in front of the Nevada Gaming Commision. The casino and online gaming side of the business, “should be complimentary,” Kim said. Gaming regulators signed off on the transaction in which Bally’s will acquire the operations of the 438-room MontBleu from Caesars Entertainment, which had to sell its stake in property due to antitrust issues surrounding its $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resort. MontBleu is owned by the Edgewood Companies, which controls the land and buildings. Bally’s said last April it entered into an amended agreement with the landlord, that included the extension of the lease term to the end of 2035. The $80 million Tahoe South Event Center is being built adjacent to MontBleu on land donated by Edgewood. “This is a destination property and a first-class place to go in Nevada,” Soo said. “This is an opportunity to have a destination for our customers from different parts of the country and have a resort experience like Lake Tahoe.” The property is Bally’s first in Nevada. The company currently operates 11 casinos in seven states. Through pending deals, the company expects to have 15 casinos in 11 states by next year. Bally’s CEO George Papanier appears in front of the Nevada Gaming Commission It is also creating an omnichannel interactive betting division through its $125 million acquisition of sports betting platform Bet.Works and its partnership with media giant Sinclair Broadcast Group. The partnership with Sinclair included rebranding 19 regional sports networks under the Bally’s name ahead of the company launch of its sports betting brand. Kim spent $20 million last fall to acquire the trademark and rights to the Bally’s name from Caesars Entertainment. At the time, the company was known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings. Caesars retained perpetual licensing rights to the name for Bally’s Las Vegas on the Strip. Kim was licensed once before in Nevada. He was part of the ownership group of bondholders in the Aliante Casino Resort in North Las Vegas that took control of the property following the 2011 bankruptcy reorganization of Station Casinos. The ownership group sold Aliante to Boyd Gaming in 2016 for $380 million. Bally’s acquired MontBleu as part of a $155 million transaction that included the acquisition of Eldorado Shreveport in Louisiana. The Shreveport sale closed in December. CEO George Papanier told the Gaming Commission that MontBleu recently underwent a $25 million renovation and was a “beautiful property” that has been “well maintained.” The property has seven restaurants and bars, 17 table games, 418 slot machines, a 1,300-seat showroom, 1,600 square feet of meeting space, and indoor and outdoor amenities. Papanier said the company plans to upgrade the casino equipment. He expects the deal to close in early April following a hearing by the Douglas County Board. One unanswered question was how long the property would be known as MontBleu. The Bally’s name is expected to be used throughout the portfolio by repositioning existing resorts under the brand. Already, recently acquired casinos in Kansas City, Missouri and Vicksburg, Mississippi are being rebranded as Bally’s properties. MontBleu, which was once known as Caesars Lake Tahoe, is expected to receive the same treatment. In a separate deal with Caesars, then-Twin Rivers bought Bally’s Atlantic City for $25 million. MontBleu is one of four casino resorts on Lake Tahoe’s Southshore near the California-Nevada border. Caesars owns both Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harvey’s and Paragon Gaming operates Hard Rock Lake Tahoe. Shares of Bally’s, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $67.34 Thursday, down $4.78 or 6.63%. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.