Bally’s Reports IQ Losses Despite Chicago Casino Successes

Written By Phil West on May 2, 2024
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The bad news is Bally’s Corporation reported a sharp loss in the first quarter of 2024. The good news is revenue at its temporary Chicago casino, along with its online casino sector, was up during the first three months of 2024.

As MarketWatch reported on Bally’s earnings call this week, the company saw “a loss of $173.9 million, or $3.61 a share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared with a profit of $178.3 million, or $3.24 a share, a year earlier.”

That was buoyed by a 4% year-over-year revenue increase in casino revenue and a 70% increase in its North American interactive business, encompassing its foray into online gaming.

Bally’s Chicago Has Seen Six Months of Revenue Growth

Bally’s Corporation operates two casinos in Illinois: Bally’s Chicago and Bally’s Quad Cities in Rock Island. The temporary casino in the Medinah Temple building opened in September. Illinois online casinos remain illegal.

During the earnings call, Bally’s said it expects to gain access to the former Chicago Tribune-owned land to build its permanent Chicago casino in July. The company said a 2026 opening is still on schedule, even as Bally’s chairman Soo Kim has floated the idea of taking Bally’s private to raise capital to build the casino.

A Chicago Tribune editorial board opinion piece from March 11 expressed skepticism with Bally’s and its promises.

“In light of increasing concerns about just what kind of facility Chicago ultimately will get, something needs now to be said loud and clear: A casino that’s merely a shed for slots, a casino that is nothing more than a repository for gambling, as distinct from an attraction with all manner of lovely things, is worse than no casino at all.”

That article also expressed concerns about whether Bally’s could indeed come up with the money needed to complete the project.

The Bally’s report did tout a number of positives at its temporary Medinah Temple casino.

  • Casino posted six consecutive months of revenue growth, including in March.
  • Casino has enjoyed more than 740,000 visitors to date, making it the second-most visited casino in Illinois.
  • Bally’s Chicago is the second largest table games operator by revenue in Illinois.
  • Over 80,000 new members enrolled in Bally’s Rewards (a 20,000 increase since the beginning of 2024).
  • There’s been strong VIP customer demand with creation of a VIP lounge, high-limit slots, and the introduction of baccarat.

Losses Partly the Result of Tropicana Closing

Bally’s 1Q losses were impacted, in part, by the closing of the Tropicana Las Vegas property as it undergoes transition. Part of the land housing the former Las Vegas Strip mainstay is slated for a baseball stadium to house the incoming Oakland A’s franchise.

KLAS-TV reported that Bally’s President, George Papanier, said the company is unsure what it will do with the remaining parcel.

“Tropicana Las Vegas officially closed on April 2nd, and we are currently preparing the building for demolition later this year. This will allow the Las Vegas A’s to begin their stadium development and keep pace with their plans to play at their new Las Vegas stadium beginning with the 2028 Major League Baseball season. While working with the team, we continue to evaluate our development options for the remainder of the Tropicana site.”

Bally’s stock dropped in early trading on Thursday from its Wednesday close of $13.16 a share, before the earnings call started, to as low as $12.56 a share during the first hour of trading.

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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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