The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has approved Bally’s (NYSE: BALY) to operate Tropicana Las Vegas. The approval came today (Sept. 7, 2022), more than a year after the gaming company bought rights to manage the famed Strip venue.
In April 2021, Bally’s acquired the Tropicana’s non-real estate assets from Gaming and Leisure Properties (NASDAQ: GLPI) in a transaction valued at $308 million. As part of that deal, the gaming company sold the property assets of venues in Colorado and Illinois to the GLPI real estate investment trust (REIT) and agreed to lease back those properties. Bally’s has a 50-year lease for Tropicana starting at $10.5 million annually.
Since then, the iconic casino resort has been a hotbed of rumors, including speculation of a major overhaul or potential teardown. Bally’s executives appearing before the NGCB discussed possible ideas for the venue, but didn’t divulge details.
William Hill, a unit of Caesars Entertainment, will continue operating the retail sportsbook at Tropicana until Bally’s officially takes over operations at the venue.
What’s Next for Tropicana
With Bally’s taking over operating responsibilities at Tropicana, the venue’s future, to some extent, remains uncertain.
As noted above, the gaming company could breathe new life into the integrated resort with an extensive refurbishment, or simply demolish the building and start from scratch. Then there’s the possibility of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Oakland Athletics possibly moving to Las Vegas and opting for a stadium at the current site of Tropicana.
In May, GLPI CEO Peter Carlino acknowledged the club has “strong” interest in that site. As the owner of the real estate, GLPI has final say over what happens on the property. The company would have to compensate Bally’s if the Tropicana is ultimately demolished in favor of a ballpark for the A’s.
Carlino said his company is fine with a casino resort remaining on the property. But if something larger can be facilitated there, it’s a win-win for GLPI and Bally’s.
For now, the only certainty appears to be that, at some point, Tropicana will eventually bear the Bally’s name. The company acquired rights to that brand from Caesars, and with that operator recently pulling the Bally’s brand from a Strip venue, the stage is set for the venerable Tropicana mark to eventually disappear from the largest gaming hub in the US.
Bally’s on the Strip
The purchase of Tropicana’s operating rights serves the objective of getting Rhode Island-based Bally’s onto the Las Vegas Strip, which is the most coveted gaming territory in the US.
Establishing a presence in the gaming mecca continues the company’s transformation from a once small regional operator to a more relevant player on the domestic gaming stage.
Tropicana isn’t Bally’s first venue in Nevada. It acquired MontBleu Resort Casino in Lake Tahoe in 2020 as part of a broader transaction with Eldorado Resorts.
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