Bally’s inks deal for Category 4 satellite casino in Pennsylvania

Bally’s has inked a deal with real estate and private equity investor, and former Valley Forge Casino owner, Ira Lubert, to construct a new category 4 satellite casino in Pennsylvania.

The US casino operator Bally’s Corporation has revealed plans to expand its operations into  Pennsylvania’s gambling market after outlining a proposal to open a new land-based gambling venue in the Keystone State.

Bally’s to work with Ira Lubert on new venue

According to the announcement, Bally’s will work in partnership with Ira Lubert, a real estate and private equity investor, and former Valley Forge Casino owner, to design, develop, construct and manage a new category 4 satellite casino in Pennsylvania.

In September 2020, Lubert was successful in bidding for the right to apply for a Category 4 Slot Machine License for a casino to be built within a 15-mile radius of Unionville Borough in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

Construction of the new venue is expected to start during the first half of 2021 and will take approximately a year to complete. Bally’s claims the new gambling venue will feature up to 750 slot machines, 30 table games, land-based and online sports betting and online gaming.

Bally’s estimates the total cost of the project, including construction, licensing and sports betting and iGaming operations, to be approximately $120m. 

The deal will see Bally’s acquire a majority equity interest in the partnership, including 100% of the economic interests of all land-based sports betting, online sports betting and iGaming activities associated with the project.

George Papanier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bally’s Corporation said: “Expanding our rapidly growing, national footprint into the attractive Pennsylvania gaming market represents yet another major milestone for Bally’s and a great way to cap off a truly extraordinary year.

“Regional, land-based casinos remain the cornerstone of our portfolio diversification strategy, providing the necessary support for the growth, development and success of our future sports betting and iGaming initiatives. We look forward to combining our own proven track record of greenfield development with Ira Lubert’s local knowledge and expertise to bring Bally’s first-in-class gaming experience and amenities to customers and sports fans across Pennsylvania.”

Ira Lubert said, “I am excited to have Bally’s as our partner to complement our vision, industry experience and financing capabilities. Together, I believe we will make this transformative project successful for all stakeholders and look forward to the positive impact the redevelopment will have on the community.”

On the deal, Jones Day acted as legal counsel, Innovation Capital, LLC acted as financial advisor to Bally’s, and DLA Piper acted as legal counsel to Lubert.

Bidding for a licence

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) held an auction for a new Category 4 Slot Machine License in September last year.

Lubert’s winning bid was $7.5m however, Lubert must pay an additional $2.5m to add up to 30 table games to the licence.

During the last auction for a licence in 2018, Mount Airy Casino Resorts applied and won the auction with a $21.2m bid for a Big Beaver Borough facility, however, its application was later denied.

Another big move for Bally’s

Bally’s corporation, previously known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings, has been hard at work expanding its presence across the US gambling space in recent months.

In October 2020, Twin River acquired the Bally’s brand from Caesars Entertainment and went on to rebrand its business as Bally’s Corporation.

This came after the casino operator purchased Bally’s casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey from Caesars and real estate investment trust, Vici Properties, for $25m back in April 2020.

Since rebranding, Bally’s has partnered with FanDuel to open a sportsbook in New Jersey and inked a $125m deal with Bet.Works. In November, Bally’s also secured a market access deal granting the operator a road into Iowa’s sports betting market.

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