Bally’s Corporation announced that it has closed a transaction with one of Chicago’s leading real estate private equity firms (the “Investor”), whereby such Investor acquired for $200 million, the approximately 30-acre Tribune Publishing Center site (the “Land”) on which Bally’s Chicago will be built. Pursuant to the terms of the parties’ agreement, Bally’s entered into a ground lease with the Investor to lease back the Land.
The ground lease includes an initial 99-year term, followed by ten separate 20-year renewals at Bally’s option. As part of the transaction, as specified construction milestones are completed, at Bally’s request, the Investor will fund up to an additional $300 million for Bally’s Chicago’s development through the ground lease structure. The initial rental rate under the ground lease is calculated to yield the Investor an 8.5% annual capitalization rate, adjusting to a 7.0% annual capitalization rate upon the receipt by Bally’s of certain development entitlements and gaming approvals. The rent is also subject to periodic CPI increases.
Soo Kim, Chairman of the Board of Bally’s, said, “We are excited to be partnering with one of Chicago’s leading real estate private equity firm as we progress with building our $1.7 billion flagship property in the Chicago market. We continue to demonstrate our commitment to delivering a world class entertainment facility that supports Chicago’s economy and community.”
Bobby Lavan, Chief Financial Officer of Bally’s, said, “This transaction is an important step in our development plan for Bally’s Chicago as we continue to work towards opening the temporary casino in mid-2023. With this new real estate partnership, Bally’s has ample liquidity on hand to fund Bally’s Chicago without needing to access the capital markets.”
Bally’s has the option to repurchase the Land from the Investor at a fixed capitalization rate during years four through eight of the lease term. In addition, if certain milestones are not achieved or Bally’s defaults under the lease, the Investor may require Bally’s to reacquire the Land at a specified price.
Fanatics, Hard Rock Digital, PointsBet Join Coalition of Leading Online Operators Focused on Responsible Gaming
A coalition of the largest online gaming operators in the US, which came together last September to agree on industry-led responsible gaming standards, has welcomed three new members to its ranks: Fanatics Betting and Gaming, Hard Rock Digital, and PointsBet.
The industry-leading coalition now includes the following nine members: Bally’s, BetMGM, DraftKings, Entain, Fanatics, FanDuel, Hard Rock Digital, PointsBet, and MGM Resorts International.
“PointsBet is proud to join the Responsible Gambling Coalition to continue bolstering our commitment to this important topic. Responsible gambling is a core priority for our business and requires meaningful collaboration with all stakeholders, inclusive of operators competing within the same markets, to promote this aspect of our industry and ensure safe practices are followed,” Rachel Kasper, SVP of Legal and Compliance of PointsBet US, said.
“We are proud to collaborate and partner with our industry colleagues. We are committed to the 12 responsible gaming principals and providing our fans tools and resources to enjoy our products,” Anthony D’Angelo, Sr. Manager of Responsible Gaming at Fanatics Betting & Gaming, said.
“Hard Rock Digital is pleased to have this opportunity to collaborate with our fellow operators to promote and maintain an industry-wide atmosphere of responsible gambling. We’re committed to serving our players with educational tools, resources, and support to ensure a safe and enjoyable online gaming experience,” Danny Crook, SVP of Operations at Hard Rock Digital, said.
The industry-leading operators have further followed through on their commitment to the principles, which will be reviewed externally by a panel of experts who will provide guidance for future endeavors. Each operator has developed reports on their activities to date that align with each of the 12 principles, and projects carried out by individual members of the group include:
- Launched a variety of responsible gaming tools and sites.
- Appointed Responsible Gaming Ambassadors, including Craig Carton and Amanda Serrano, and worked with former New York Giant Amani Toomer and former New York Knick Charles Oakley to promote responsible gambling.
- Committed to the need for a unified, nationwide responsible gaming toll-free helpline, and continue to advocate for its adoption.
- Established research partnerships with industry-leading institutions including the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, the Division on Addiction of the Harvard Medical School, and the ICGR Sports Wagering Research Fund.
- Partnered with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) by serving as donors and Advisory Board members; helping to fund the organization’s agility grant program; and supporting NCPG and its state affiliates through a State Council Funding Program.
- Received the RGCheck accreditation from the Responsible Gambling Council, the leading international authority on responsible gambling, with several others moving through the accreditation process.
Bally’s Appoints Robeson Reeves As CEO
Bally’s Corporation announced that Lee Fenton, CEO, will step down and Robeson Reeves, President – Interactive, will take over as CEO, effective March 31, 2023.
Fenton became CEO of Bally’s on October 1, 2021 following the acquisition of Gamesys Group PLC where he had been CEO since 2015. Fenton will also step down from the Bally’s Board of Directors.
Soo Kim, Chairman of Bally’s Corporation’s Board of Directors, said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Lee for his excellent leadership and valuable contributions to Bally’s. Lee has led Bally’s through the effective integration of Gamesys, leaving us well positioned for future growth. During his time, he also established the purpose and values of what is now an integrated Bally’s group. We look forward to building on what Lee has helped develop, and we wish him all the best in his next chapter.”
Kim continued, “I am excited to have Robeson succeed Lee as CEO. Robeson has an extraordinary mind and the drive required to excel as he takes the helm. Robeson has been a member of the Board since the Gamesys acquisition and his appointment represents the Board’s commitment to the development of the very best talent at Bally’s.”
Lee Fenton, Bally’s outgoing Chief Executive Officer, said, “I want to thank Soo and the rest of the Board for my time at Bally’s and for the work through the transition to Robeson’s leadership. Bally’s is an extraordinary business with extraordinary people, and I want to thank each and every one of them for the support they have shown me and the commitment they continue to bring to the business. It is particularly special for me to be able to hand the reigns to Robeson with whom I have worked for over 14 years. Robeson is a unique talent and the time is right for him to lead Bally’s.”
Robeson Reeves, Bally’s incoming Chief Executive Officer, said, “I am honored to lead Bally’s and grateful for the support and confidence shown in me by my fellow Board members. We are a unique company with a robust core and an extraordinary set of opportunities ahead of us. I look forward to working hard with my Executive Team and all our teams to take those opportunities and maximize our growth.”
Reeves joined Gamesys in September 2005 and held several leadership positions since that time. Prior to his current role with Bally Interactive, Reeves served as Chief Operating Officer of Gamesys since July 2015, and before that as Gamesys’ Director of Gaming Operations.
Bally’s Completes Previously Announced Sale Leaseback Transaction With GLPI Regarding Tiverton And Biloxi Properties
Bally’s Corporation announced the completion of its previously announced real estate transaction with the operating partnership of Gaming & Leisure Properties, Inc. (“GLPI”). Bally’s and GLPI completed a sale leaseback transaction relating to the land and real estate assets of Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel in Tiverton, RI, and Bally’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi in Biloxi, MS, for total consideration of $635 million.
The transaction was structured as a tax-free capital contribution, and a substantial portion of the proceeds will be applied to reduce Bally’s debt. These properties have been added to Bally’s Master Lease with GLPI, which now includes six properties. The rent for the Master Lease was increased by $48.5 million on an annual basis on account of the transaction.
Bobby Lavan, Chief Financial Officer of Bally’s, said, “We are pleased to have completed another transaction with GLPI. This marks an important step for us, ensuring Bally’s is best positioned for continued growth.”
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