Will Bally’s New Owner Join The Hot Online Gambling Market In New Jersey?

Written By Bill Gelman on June 9, 2020

Twin River Worldwide Holdings (TRWH) is moving forward with the purchase of Bally’s Atlantic City.

But in order to complete the pending sale, the pending owner needs the approval of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

This remains a work in progress.

On May 26, the Rhode Island-based company filed a petition with the DGE. This would be for interim casino authorization to own and operate the Atlantic City property. And that’s where it sits for now.

But once approved, Bally’s will be separated from Caesars Entertainment’s New Jersey casino portfolio.

Twin River will be in a position to make much-needed capital upgrades. The property celebrated its 30th anniversary on Dec. 29, 2019.

More importantly, the new owner is gaining access to the NJ sports betting and NJ online casino markets. As a new entity in the AC market, it can apply for online gambling licenses.

So here’s the $25-million-dollar question: What exactly could Twin River have planned for Bally’s once they are approved for a license?

The new owner of Bally’s has yet to share details of its NJ online gaming plans. Let the guessing game begin.

Twin River + Bally’s Atlantic City

Here’s what we do know: The Book at Bally’s is Atlantic City’s largest sportsbook. But once the transaction closes, Caesars will maintain ownership.

The 15,228-square-foot space is part of the Wild Wild West Casino. It’s considered the annex between Bally’s and Caesars, and the latter is keeping it, too.

The soon to be ex-sister properties will remain connected once the sale closes, even if the sportsbook remains under Caesars’ umbrella.

On the mobile side, Caesars Sportsbook and 888 Sportbook (and all of the sister casino sites) will continue to operate under the Caesars Interactive license.

Twin River, therefore, will be entering the NJ online gambling market with a fresh set of eyes.

The company will have the option of launching three online sportsbook skins under its license. And the door to NJ casino apps is wide open, too.

NJ online gaming possibilities for Bally’s new owner

The most likely scenario is launching a Bally’s-branded app. The name is one customers are familiar with and have been for the past 30 years.

Plus, the eight other Atlantic City casinos each have at least one casino app matching their land-based name. And for the most part, the name recognition works in their favor. For example, Golden Nugget online casino is the most profitable of online casinos in New Jersey.

There are a lot of reasons for that, but its name certainly plays a part.

Launching an integrated sportstbook/casino app with the Bally’s name is a no-brainer.

To start, Twin River would need to ink a deal on the technology/software side. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Scientific Games 
  • SBTech 
  • GAN

The three companies currently have a presence in the Atlantic City market and are approved to operate in New Jersey. It would be an easy move for Bally’s to partner with one of them and get the ball rolling.

Secondly, Bally’s would need to partner with a sportsbook operator to run its self-branded site. Here, the field is wide open again, but there are some newcomers looking for a bite of the AC market:

Carousel Group is reportedly close to finalizing a deal. And it’s rumored to be with an Atlantic City casino.

Betway Sportsbook is another name looking to gain NJ access. Betway has a casino product, too.

The European company has yet to launch in the United States.

What about a FanDuel Sportsbook in Atlantic City?

When it comes to NJ sports betting, FanDuel Sportsbook is king. The brand operates under the Meadowlands Racetrack license with a profitable sportsbook next to an NFL stadium.

However, a new casino operator looking to make its retail sportsbook an attraction (once social distancing guidelines are loosened) may be interested in partnering with a big name.

Hypothetically speaking of course.

But it may not be as crazy as it sounds, and here’s why.

If FanDuel and Bally’s make a deal, it would give FanDuel a landing spot in the AC casino market. This is where eight of the 10 retail sportsbooks currently exist.

After losing arguably the best book in town, Bally’s could generate foot traffic with a FanDuel retail sportsbook. NFL betting customers will likely see a temporary retail area first.

And from a FanDuel perspective, operating under more than one partner/license is no biggie.

William Hill has partnerships with Tropicana Atlantic CityOcean Casino Resort, and Monmouth Park. And while William Hill has one online site in the Garden State, it has three retail sportsbooks.

In Pennsylvania, FanDuel opened a sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino. Additionally, another one at Live! Casino & Hotel is coming soon.

Whatever the plans end up being, Twin River will need to reconfigure the casino floor at Bally’s.

The numbers don’t lie in online gambling

Retail betting aside, it’s hard to imagine Twin River not wanting a slice of the country’s hottest online gaming market.

In April alone, New Jersey online operators posted a record $80 million in revenue. And NJ online gambling revenue has yet to see a month-over-month decline since its inception back in 2013.

While Twin River will be entering the market late, there’s no reason to think it can’t make its mark and enjoy a slice of the pie. A small slice is still a lucrative one in the end.

Next step for Twin River? A license

The next Casino Control Commission meeting is taking place Wednesday.

The Bally’s sale and licensing are not included on the agenda.

Whatever date the hearing does take place, Twin River’s plans for this aging property will likely be discussed. It is hard to imagine no improvements at Bally’s Atlantic City.

But the way we see it, getting a license is simply the first step to a much bigger plan.

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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