Bally’s Chicago casino was highlighted in the corporation’s 2023 third quarter earnings report this week. Bally’s executives seemed pleased with the property’s performance since it opened in early September.
Revenue outlook and workforce reductions, however, tempered some of the excitement over its newest Illinois casino.
Bally’s points out several successes of Chicago casino in Q3 earnings report
Bally’s Chicago achieved many milestones in its first few months of operations, giving the company something to celebrate in its earnings call. More than 155,000 people visited the casino in its first 30 days of operation. Also, Bally’s was a top-two table games operator in Illinois by size and revenue.
The earnings report also cites “strong play within our VIP segment” and “increasing repeat visitation from Bally’s Reward customers.”
The downtown Chicago casino has welcomed a mix of tourists and local traffic, said Bally’s president, George Papanier.
“… We are pleased with the September opening of our Chicago temporary casino. We have satisfied our critical operating criteria and execution milestones, and expect to receive the necessary regulatory support to expand and accelerate marketing initiatives beginning later this month, which will enable us to bolster revenue.”
Reading between the lines of that very corporate quote seems to indicate that Bally’s Chicago is doing well. The company plans to ramp up marketing going into the winter months. Bally’s was middle of the pack in Illinois casino September revenue. The casino was only open for three weeks during that period, so its numbers are expected to rise in October and beyond.
Bally’s executives remain bullish on the temporary Chicago casino, emphasizing increasing visitor counts even as the property operates in its “soft opening environment” of 20 hours per day. Once regulators approve, Bally’s Chicago will remain open 24 hours a day.
President says River West casino on track to open in 2026
Bally’s Corporation is also focusing on its permanent River West property, Papanier said.
“Regarding the Chicago permanent facility, by the end of 2023, we will have accounted for the majority of the soft costs outlined in the budget shared when the project was announced in 2022. We expect construction of the permanent facility to commence in the second half of 2024 once the [Tribune Company vacates] the premises in July.”
September 2026 is the target opening window for the full-fledged casino complex. Bally’s has earmarked costs for demolition and site preparation in 2024. The company expects most of the construction to take place over 2025 and 2026.
Report lists some revenue woes for Bally’s
Bally’s overall revenue increased 9.3% year-over-year, but the business had to temper its outlook after the Chicago casino was delayed and its choice to “pause reinvestment and operational changes at the Tropicana while awaiting MLB’s decision on the Oakland A’s relocation,” according to the earnings press release. Bally’s revenue guidance tanked from $2.4-$2.5 billion to $640-$650 million.
Additionally, the business announced plans to reduce the workforce in its interactive wing by 300, a move Papanier says was sparked by increased “confidence with White Hat and Kambi,” Bally’s platform providers for North America. According to Papanier, it will make Bally’s a “stronger company.”