Bally’s grows Las Vegas presence with stadium, Trop renovation
Lost in the news surrounding the entry of casino operator Bally’s Corp. as a partner in the effort to bring Major League Baseball to Las Vegas were executive suite management changes.
The Rhode Island-based company last week named Marcus Glover as chief financial officer. His experience includes overseeing two of MGM Resorts International’s largest properties and executive-level roles with several Caesars Entertainment regional resorts.
Also joining Bally’s is Jaymin Patel as vice chairman and H.C. Charles Diao as a senior vice president in the corporate finance team.
Coupled with recently named CEO Robeson Reeves, who has been on the job since the end of March, analysts said the recent management moves could worry investors.
The largest project on Bally’s plate is a $1.7 billion hotel-casino development in downtown Chicago. A temporary casino is expected to open this year with the permanent resort on a 30-acre site along the Chicago River completed by 2026 or 2027.
Added into the mix are the company’s plans for Tropicana Las Vegas, where Bally’s has committed 9 acres of the 34-acre site on the south Strip for a $1.5 billion stadium that would allow the Oakland A’s to relocate to Las Vegas.
On Tuesday, Culinary Workers Local 226, which represents hundreds of non-gaming employees at the resort, said the staff was told the property “will be closing temporarily in 18-24 months for development, should the public financing for a new A’s stadium occur.”
The union said in a statement the workers are protected under the contract.
“The Culinary Union will negotiate to ensure workers’ rights under the contract are strictly followed so that workers have additional compensation, health care coverage, and pension benefits while the property is closed for development,” Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in the statement.
Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim said Monday it was likely the Tropicana would be demolished at some point and replaced with an all-new resort.
“For a company with numerous moving pieces, we think it’s important investors perceive a steady hand at the wheel,” Wells Fargo Financial gaming analyst Daniel Politzer wrote in a research note. “A new CFO and [vice chairman] will likely warrant questions as to what other changes may be in the works as Bally’s continues to evolve.”
Bally’s, which owns and manages 15 casinos in 10 states including Bally’s Lake Tahoe, carries more than $3.3 billion in long-term debt on its books.
Other analysts told investors the changes signal a focus on operations.
“We think the broader recent organizational changes reflect Bally’s shifting to execution following its evolving strategic and financial direction,” Truist Securities gaming analyst Barry Jonas said in a research note.
Kim, who took control of the company through his Standard General Hedge Fund in 2019 when the regional casino operator was known as Twin River Worldwide, said Monday the business is highly focused.
He has been at the forefront of many of the company’s expansions from its two Rhode Island properties, acquiring nearly a dozen casinos in the last three years and spending $20 million in 2020 to purchase the “Bally’s” name from Caesars.
“These appointments add substantial financial depth and global gaming management experience to our team,” Kim said of his executive team. “We like to say internally that we’re the fastest-growing gaming company. I don't know if that's true or not, but it’s how we view ourselves.”
Glover’s appointment as CFO was well received by the investment community, given his background in operations. For MGM Resorts, he oversaw Borgata in Atlantic City before moving to oversee Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi.
He joins Roberson, who had been a top executive with European online gaming provider Gamesys Group, which Bally’s acquired in 2021 in a $2.7 billion transaction. He was head of interactive for Bally’s before taking over as CEO.
“Marcus Glover has been an operating executive in the casino industry for many years [and] in combination with the CEO who has a European digital background, the announcement rounds out the team,” Jefferies gaming analyst David Katz wrote in a research note. “In general, we believe the announcements add experience to the [company].”
The management changes have made Bally’s one of the gaming industry’s most diverse companies, with people of color in many of the senior executive leadership roles and board positions.
“I think it’s great for us,” Kim said. “We have a good and very experienced leadership team and we're excited to have them. We have a lot going on.”
Kim said the company will figure out the future of the Tropicana when A’s deal is decided. The agreement is contingent on legislative approval of an anticipated $395 million in public financing sought for the project.
“We think it will have it sorted out in the near future,” Kim said. “To be frank, this casino was built in 1959. It’s one of the last of the old ones. While it’s historic, it’s amazing it’s still here. It doesn’t capture the current realities of the market. I think we'll be able to present something very different over time.”
Kim has experience in Las Vegas. Standard General led a group of creditors that took ownership of Aliante Station in North Las Vegas following the bankruptcy reorganization of Station Casinos in 2011.
He served as the casino’s CEO after the debt holders kicked out Station Casinos, which ran the property during the reorganization. The new ownership installed a management team led by veteran gaming executive Terry Downey.
He watched and took notes as Downey’s team used a $2.8 million infusion from the owners and turned around Aliante’s fortunes within 14 months. Boyd Gaming bought Aliante in 2016.