The juggernaut that is Bally’s Corporation has certainly been moving at breakneck speed during recent weeks and months, epitomising the increasing trend of M&A that has emanated across both digital and retail on a global basis.

The company has been seemingly sweeping up all before it since rebranding from its former Twin River Worldwide moniker in November, after purchasing the Bally’s brand from Caesars Entertainment in a deal that it’s thought was worth in the region of $20m.

The acquisition spree that followed included deals to purchase the $125m Bet.Works, $25m Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, Monkey Knife Fight in an all-stock transaction, SportCaller, and Tropicana Las Vegas, as well as agreement of terms on a $2bn Gamesys Group business combination.

However, this itself excludes a number of other alliances struck during that time alongside the likes of Sinclair Broadcast Group, MLB, NBA and more; the on off pursuit of Allied Esports Entertainment’s poker-related business and assets, including the entities comprising the World Poker Tour; and completion of a $155m transaction to gain the MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa and Eldorado Resort and Casino Shreveport.

However, the operator is also competing alongside Cordish Companies and Urban One for a proposed casino resort project in the Virginian capital of Richmond.

Bally’s’ $650m Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort was recently named as one of three proposals left standing, alongside the aforementioned pair’s Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond, and One Casino + Resort. Fellow proposals from Golden Nugget, Pamunkey Indian Tribe, and Wind Creek, were named as those not progressing.

Negotiations are to continue running until mid-May, when a recommendation of a preferred operator will be made to the city council. If the preferred operator and site is selected, the council will petition the courts to include a referendum on November 2, 2021. 

With the race well underway, CasinoBeats spoke to Michael Monty, senior project manager for Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort, on being shortlisted, standing out amid much competition, and maximising support for local growth and development.

These conflicts of interest are significant”

CasinoBeats: How pleasing was it to become shortlisted among three finalists by the city of Richmond’s evaluation panel to host a casino gaming establishment?

Michael Monty: We are honoured to have been selected as a finalist and have the continued opportunity to partner with the city of Richmond, its residents and businesses on this campaign. The Bally’s Richmond is truly a Richmond-first project, dedicated to supporting local businesses and minority organisations by driving job creation and developing sustained economic opportunities.

We are confident that our proposal will provide incomparable economic benefits to the greater Richmond community, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue to prove to the city and its various stakeholders that Bally’s is for RVA.

CB: What do you believe stands the Bally’s proposal above its competitors?

MM: At $650m, which includes an upfront, unrestricted $100m contribution to the city, we are by far the largest proposal. We also have an innovative ‘Richmond Rewards’ program that will incentivise players and guests to apply their earned rewards at local Richmond retail establishments, which we estimate will generate approximately $30m in revenue annually.

But one of the most important differences is that, unlike Urban One/Rosie’s Gaming Emporium and Cordish, we are conflict-free. We don’t have an ownership stake in, or maintain, a nearby casino.

In fact, unlike the Urban One/Rosie’s proposal, which is inherently conflicted given Rosie’s local RVA presence, and Cordish, which owns and operates a casino in nearby Maryland, our closest casino is more than 200 driving miles from Richmond. These conflicts of interest are significant given that the city expects 78 per cent of gaming revenue to come from external markets.

We are very thoughtful about our M&A strategy and how we pursue assets that complement our offerings”

Unlike our competitors, our vision for the Bally’s Richmond is a world class destination dedicated to serving as an economic engine for the Richmond community, transforming it into a tourist destination that supports the growth and development of small and emerging businesses. The Bally’s Richmond will serve as the centrepiece of our Atlantic Coast growth initiative. No other competitor can say that.

CB: How much will the company’s wider M&A plans, which show no sign of slowing down, assist the company in potentially maximising the opportunity presented?

MM: It will assist greatly, especially considering that, unlike our competitors, the Bally’s Richmond is the only property in the River City and the entire Atlantic Coast where we want to send our players and guests.  

As one of the largest casino operators in the US with 15 casinos in 11 states (including pending acquisitions), we plan to leverage our 15+ million player database to attract 3.7 million visitors annually and transform Richmond in a tourism hub.

We are very thoughtful about our M&A strategy and how we pursue assets that complement our offerings. As a result of this strategy, Bally’s has grown exponentially to become one of the largest, publicly traded regional casino operators in the US. 

Though we have a national reach, we are known for our local touch. We are committed to providing the local and corporate resources necessary to ensure a successful partnership with the city of Richmond.

We are also committed to becoming an active member of the city and deeply woven into the fabric of the Richmond community. We look forward to partnering with the city of Richmond, on this exciting adventure.

We want to bring our knowledge and expertise to help generate economic stimulus”

CB: How has the ‘Bally’s For RVA’ campaign been received? And what else is planned in this regard moving forward?

MM: Members of the Richmond community are actively engaging with our ‘Bally’s For RVA’ campaign. Additionally, we have received support from several influential Richmond individuals and minority supplier organisations, including: the Lanier Family; Warren Thompson of Thompson Hospitality, which is the largest minority employer in RVA; the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling; the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce; the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce; and the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council.

We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the city of Richmond, its residents and small business owners to develop and operate Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort. This is an exciting time for gaming in Virginia and we can’t wait to bring our first-in-class entertainment platform to the River City.

CB: Maximising support for local growth and development is a key facet to all proposals, could you outline what Bally’s has planned with regards to this?

MM: At Bally’s we embrace a community-first policy. That is a fundamental and defining element of who we are as a company. In every community in which we operate, we build strong, lasting partnerships with local residents and businesses. We want to bring our knowledge and expertise to help generate economic stimulus and create employment opportunities for the city of Richmond.

Our proposal is expected to create 4,300 construction jobs and more than 2,000 permanent jobs upon completion. Those jobs will earn no less than $15/hour, while our average wage will be $22/hour. This is based off an average annual salary of $52,000, which far exceeds a $15/hour threshold.

We also want this project to serve as an economic engine for the Richmond community that will support the growth and development of small and emerging businesses. With the 3.7 million visitors that we expect to bring each year to the Richmond area, the Bally’s Richmond will generate $5.3bn in economic value over a 10-year period. We are also targeting minority business participation of 30 per cent for construction and up to 40 per cent for professional services.