Bally’s Latest: Mobile Sports Betting In Iowa

After back-to-back announcements demonstrating significant expansion for the Bally’s brand, the company will launch mobile sports betting in Iowa. Prior to this arrangement, Bally’s has struck deals to operate mobile sports betting in 10 other states in the US, a deal expedited by the company’s acquisition of online sports betting platform Bet.Works. As part of its new move into online sports betting, Bally’s is implementing what it is terming a B2B2C business model.

An umpire at an Iowa State football game.

This marks Bally’s first move into a state wherein it owns no land-based option. ©KeithJJ/Pixabay

In Fall 2020, Bally’s Is Playing To Win

Within the span of just a number of weeks, Bally’s Corporation has dramatically picked up the pace in its business. From major acquisitions to high-profile rebranding, the company is bringing its iconic name back into the world of American gambling, and with it, some significant new additions to a famous land-based gambling business.

The Reason For The Change: In October, Bally’s Sold

In mid-October, Twin River Worldwide Holdings, a company owned by Soo Kim, purchased the rights to the Bally’s Atlantic Casino brand. The deal signified not just a major change for Bally’s, but also for Twin River, which changed its name — including its New York Stock Exchange ticker — to reflect the Bally’s brand.

As such, within two weeks of the sale, Twin Rivers had changed its name to Bally’s Corporation. At the time of the sale, Twin Rivers held 11 casinos across the United States, all of which will now also be enfolded into the Bally’s Corporation brand. With the sale, as of October, Bally’s operated 14 casinos, a racetrack, and 13 OTBs.

In late October, the company made clear that it was planning a strong and deliberate move deep into the world of American gambling, growing its holdings and boosting its presence to the 80 million customers served by its land-based gambling options, in addition to another 14 million customers in the company database.

From The Outset, Kim Makes Clear: We’re Moving Online

When Twin River initially purchased Bally’s in mid-October, Soo Kim, whose hedge fund owns 39% of Twin River, explained that the company aimed to reclaim the Bally’s name, revitalizing one of America’s best-known gambling brands. This would include, he emphasized, the strong launch of a Bally’s online sports betting website.

Pandemic Lockdowns Won’t Stop Kim: Buying Up Casinos During COVID

Though COVID-19-related lockdowns have dealt an almost impossible hand to the land-based gambling industry, Soo Kim’s hedge fund, Standard General, has acquired a number of casinos across the US during the pandemic. In addition to the Bally’s name, Standard General now controls an extra three casinos nationwide.

Under New Leadership, Bally’s Buys Back And Buys Bet.Works

Within its first weeks of new management, the freshly-renamed Bally’s Corporation quickly got to work establishing a strong, reenergized presence in the American gambling market. By late November, the company had announced two significant new developments, signaling land-based and online growth.

Reclaiming An Old Atlantic City Spot

One of Bally’s strongest moves was to purchase back its Atlantic City casino, which had been under the management and ownership of Caesars and Vici. This decision is — as with the fact that Standard General has purchased a number of casinos during COVID — in defiance of the fact that Atlantic City business is steadily low.

Today, there are just two Bally’s-named casinos remaining nationwide. Now, Bally’s has reclaimed control over the Atlantic City location, while the other, in Las Vegas, is still owned by Caesars. The Atlantic City location is called Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, and the sale closed to the tune of $25 million.

Concretizing A Move Online: Bally’s Buys Bet.Works

Around the same time, the Bally’s Corporation announced that it would be acquiring iGaming site Bet.Works, which operates in New Jersey, Indiana, Colorado, and Iowa. Bally’s purchased Bet.Works from its previous owners for $125 million — $100 million more than it had spent to buy back its land-based casino.

According to the company, this move meant Bally’s formal entry into the world of online gaming. In so doing, the company established that it would be establishing two branches of its operations: Bally’s Casino, for land-based gambling options, and Bally’s Interactive, for its online gambling offerings.

Following Bet.Works Acquisition, Bally’s Comes To Iowa

Given that Iowa is one of the four states in which Bet.Works operates, it is, perhaps, no surprise that, just a short time after announcing the purchase of the iGaming company, Bally’s has announced that it will shortly begin offering mobile sports betting to gamblers in Iowa.

This deal has been made possible due to a partnership between Bally’s Corporation and the Iowa-based Elite Casino Resorts. Thanks to the Elite Casino and Golf Resort in Larchwood, Iowa, Bally’s was able to secure a gambling license to operate mobile sports betting in the state, which is expected to formally launch in 2021.

With No Casino, A Bally’s First

Iowa marks the 11th state in which Bally’s has operations at this point in the US, though this move is a significant departure from its normal business. Unlike every other state in which Bally’s has an outpost, there is no land-based gambling offering from Bally’s in Iowa. This marks, then, Bally’s first state in which just Bally’s Interactive operates.

According to George Papanier, CEO and President of Bally’s Corporation, the company now boasts sportsbook operations in Delaware, Mississippi, Colorado, Rhode Island, and — thanks to its latest business ventures in New Jersey — Atlantic City. Given the rapid pace at which Bally’s is moving, however, this list is only likely to keep growing.

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A historic mansion in Davenport, Iowa.

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