Bally’s Casino GM Talks Making A New First Impression In Atlantic City

Written By Bill Gelman on August 24, 2022 - Last Updated on April 10, 2024
Bally's AC

When looking over the most recent Atlantic City casino results, Bally’s Atlantic City numbers likely will not generate a “Wow!” reaction. At least not yet. This is a 40-plus-year-old property that kicked off the summer season by celebrating $100 million worth of capital improvements.

But are those investments paying off where it counts?

It is no secret market leaders such as Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino continue to dominate. Ocean Casino Resort consistently ranks third. However, parent company Bally’s Corp. hasn’t exactly been sitting back and watching the property fail month after month. Actually, the focus continues to be on reintroducing the Bally’s brand to customers.

PlayNJ sat down earlier this month with Bally’s Atlantic City GM Michael Monty to discuss what he is seeing since the big Memorial Day grand reopening celebration and what’s next.

Bally’s AC Carousel Bar is a home run with hotel visitors

During a recent Thursday visit, the Carousel Bar, the new hotel lobby centerpiece, was busy. And The Yard, the indoor/outdoor dining and entertainment area that has opened in the courtyard space, had a strong late-night crowd enjoying the live DJs.

More importantly, Monty and the Bally’s executive team are pleased with the fresh energy the property is generating.

Monty said the Carousel Bar has “really been a home run.”

The rotating bar – the only one in New Jersey – replaced the dated Lobby Bar.

“What that does for us, when you come into the property, and you see those lights, and that bar, and you see it full of people on a Saturday night with some cool music playing, it just changes your experience right from the start,” Monty said. “Your whole energy and opinion about the property is transcended, so it fills you with energy and excitement. It becomes a place to be, where it wasn’t like that a year ago.”

Focus on first impressions

Then there is The Yard, which is more than another Atlantic city casino restaurant. Besides live entertainment (the space includes multiple stages for bands and DJs), guests can play classic arcade games, cornhole, Tic-Tac-Toe and Connect Four.

The space also includes a blackjack pit, but the tables are not being used yet.

As Monty points out, people walking by Bally’s will see The Yard and be curious about what this new amenity is all about.

“You get one chance to make a first impression, and whichever way they come in the property, we’re hitting it,” Monty said. “It’s not just the gaming customers, it’s the cash customer. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the cash customer is very important, particularly in the summer. It’s really significantly changed how the customer experience is from the get-go.”

Giving slot players what they want is high priority for Bally’s

Bally’s continues addressing its slot offerings by adding some 400 new slot machines over the past 12 months. And the casino isn’t hesitant about making a change.

“We are constantly changing them, bringing new product, and if the customer doesn’t take to them, we just switch them out,” Monty said.

Lightning Link and Lock It Link are a couple of the popular slot titles.

“We have the product that customers seek. We’re constantly evolving to meet the customer demand,” Monty said.

Monty noted that in the Atlantic City market, the competition for slot game offerings is fierce:

“It’s not like this is a regional market where the customer, if they wanted to play a different game, would have to drive an extra hour. If I don’t have the product the customer wants, they’ll just park in a different parking garage and play a different game,” Monty said. “There are customers who only play certain games here, and we are at a point where we’re very competitive in what we offer.”

While slots get much of the attention, Bally’s is also dedicated to staying competitive with its table game offerings. To that end, the property recently added a new high limit table games pit.

Bally’s Atlantic City casino results are improving

Looking back at the Atlantic City casino revenue results from January 2022 until through July, it’s hard not to notice how Bally’s has finished eighth or ninth out of nine casinos. At the same time, looking at Bally’s year-to-date results, the numbers continue heading in the right direction, especially with slots.

Here is a closer look at Bally’s results through July:

Month Slots Table Games Total Gaming Win
July 2022 $12,778,755$4,041,541$16,820,296
June 2022 $10,203,953$3,343,527$13,547,480
May 2022$10,319,057$2,351,636$12,670,693
April 2022 $9,415,408$5,003,408$14,418,816
March 2022 $7,694,689$5,783,567$13,478,256
February 2022 $7,620,862$3,115,899$10,736,761
January 2022 $5,738,134$3,045,482$8,783,616

So you can see January’s casino floor revenue came in at just $8.8 million, with $5.7 million of it coming from slot play. In July, which included five weekends, the total came in at $12.8 million. That’s the strongest result so far this year by more than $2 million.

Overall, Bally’s still has a lot of ground to make up. For July, total casino win was $16.8 million. While it’s the strongest month by far (July typically is), the result still puts Bally’s eighth out of nine casinos. Golden Nugget Atlantic City took the bottom spot with $14.5 millionResorts AC came in seventh with $18.1 million.

While Bally’s is only up fractionally from the same period last year, there were only four properties to see a positive percentage increase year-over-year.

However, if we look at year-to-date performance, Bally’s casino win currently sits at $90.4 million, good enough for an 18.5% year-over-year increase. While the total ranks eighth among the nine properties, Bally’s is only one of four casinos that showed a double-digit percentage increase.

Bally Casino building NJ online casino customer base

When Bally’s Corp. (previously Twin River Worldwide Holdings) purchased the property from Caesars Entertainment, it left the new owners sitting on the NJ online casino sidelines. There are now three skins operating under the license:

So far, NJ is the only market where the Bally’s online casino brand is available (Bally Bet, which is available in other markets, is the sports betting brand). There is no update regarding if and when the Bally’s NJ sportsbook app will launch.

NFL and MLB betting is available via the kiosks and betting windows at the FanDuel Sportsbook.

What’s the story with Bally’s AC pool and spa?

Is Bally’s finished with upgrading its property at Park Place and The Boardwalk? Probably not.

However, any additional future plans have yet to be announced. The pool and health club located on the eighth floor of the completely renovated Bally’s Tower reopened in July. Hotel guests using the amenity will likely notice the space still has a dated look. So why did Bally’s reopen the pool this year?

Simply put, “The customers wanted a pool.”

“We had a pool, but it needed some work and we made the necessary repairs to reopen,” Monty said.

So Bally’s did some more repairs and got it open. Monty said Bally’s now has a “presentable product.” And during a recent weekday visit, hotel guests were taking advantage of the indoor amenity.

In terms of what the future holds for the pool/spa area, it looks like things will remain status quo for now.

“Everyone knows that Bally’s spa, Bally’s pool, back in the day, sets a high bar, but the future capital programming of that space is to be determined,” Monty said.

And it’s hard ignoring the sixth floor where there is more than 100,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space (along with new dining options). Making improvements would certainly help Bally’s attract that midweek convention business. The Yard was just recently announced as an indoor/outdoor meeting, convention and special event space. As with the pool, Bally’s has yet to announce future plans regarding the sixth floor.

What makes Bally’s Atlantic City ‘a destination?’

Those who follow the casino industry closely are well aware the once faded Bally’s name is popping up once again all over the country. Remember, Twin Rivers started as a regional operator based out of little Rhode Island.

This doesn’t count Las Vegas, where Bally’s is in the process of buying the Tropicana. The company is also building a hotel casino in downtown Chicago. But Monty points out the Atlantic City property offers something the others do not – “a destination.”

“You have beautiful ocean, you have 1,200-plus hotel rooms, an abundance of amenities. The value for us in Atlantic City is that customers who are customers of other properties can come here. This can be their destination.”

The recent renovations and constant upgrades could certainly help make the Bally’s Atlantic City casino an even more desirable destination.

Photo by Bill Gelman
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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman has been reporting on the NJ gambling market since 2018, right around when the Garden State launched sports betting. Bill transitioned from lead writer for PlayNJ and NJ Gambling Sites to his current role as managing editor in 2020. Besides offering in-depth analysis on NJ gambling market trends and news, Bill regularly sits down with Atlantic City casino industry executives to offer readers exclusive interviews and comprehensive coverage. Bill received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ithaca College. He has contributed to other Catena Media sites including The Lines, Legal Sports Report, PlayPennsylvania and PlayCanada.

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