Standard General Makes Second Attempt to Acquire Bally’s—Now At a Much Lower Price

Bally’s minority stakeholder Standard General (SG) is once again looking to acquire the remainder of the business, now at a price of $15 per share. That’s a significant premium over Bally’s stock prices (Bally’s Corporation 14,04 +0,86%) before the news. Shares had been trading in the vicinity of $10, although the price jumped about 35% once the offer became public, as investors have flocked to the possibility of a quick profit should the deal go through. 

Even so, the offer values Bally’s at less than $700 million. By contrast, the last time SG made a play for the remaining 77% of Bally’s, it did so with an offer of $38 per share, valuing the company at closer to $1.8 billion. 

The board of Bally’s has formed a special committee of independent directors to consider the offer. The question before them is whether this new, lower valuation is a fair assessment of the company’s potential or whether it’s poised to turn a corner and regain some of that lost value.

Bally’s Chairman, Soohyung “Soo” Kim, is a founding partner and Chief Investment Officer of SG, so the two companies are already tightly linked.

A Tough Market and Missed Opportunities

Longtime Bally’s shareholders may now wish the company had accepted SG’s previous offer. However, it’s far from the only company that failed to cash in at the market’s peak.

Many US online gambling operators have seen their valuations collapse since the industry’s 2021 highs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. High marketing expenses, saturation of the sports betting market, and slower-than-expected online casino expansion have all soured investor sentiment.

Some companies, like DraftKings, successfully capitalized on the COVID-era enthusiasm. Its shares spiked to over $70 in the wake of its 2020 debut on the public market by way of a special-purpose acquisitions deal. They subsequently crashed to around $17 before recovering partway (DraftKings 37,78 +2,55%).

At the other extreme is WynnBet, which first hoped to go public at a value of $3.5 billion in 2021. Failing that, it tried again at $500 million the following year, with no more success. After writing off most of the brand’s remaining value in 2023, Wynn Resorts (Wynn Resorts 83,27 -0,32%) has shut down all WynnBet sites outside of Nevada, with its Michigan online casino having been the last to fall in February.

Like WynnBet, Bally’s was a latecomer to US online gambling. However, it appears more optimistic about its prospects at the moment. Having secured a monopoly in Rhode Island can’t hurt, although that’s a small market.

Bally’s Complicated Corporate History

The US mergers and acquisitions landscape has produced numerous convoluted corporate histories, perhaps none more so than Bally’s.

Long before it was a casino brand, Bally’s was a manufacturer of pinball machines and later slots. As a slots brand, it still exists, but as a subsidiary of Light & Wonder (Light & Wonder Inc 105,87 +2,12%), totally separate from Bally Casino

Until 2020, the company now known as Bally’s was Twin River Worldwide Holdings, operator of the two retail casinos in Rhode Island. At that point, it bought the Bally’s identity from Caesars, along with the Bally’s Atlantic City casino—but, confusingly, not some of the other Bally’s retail casinos throughout the US.

The plan was to gain direct access to the New Jersey online casino market. Next, Bally’s needed an online product, which it developed through a $2.7 billion merger with GameSys. This deal saw GameSys CEO Lee Fenton take the reins at Bally’s. However, he has since been replaced by Robeson Reeves, another GameSys veteran, amid heavy layoffs in the interactive division.

Assuming SG’s takeover is successful, it will represent the culmination of what was presumably Kim’s plan from the start. But the Bally’s that will have resulted from this series of deals will be an amalgam of companies from various sectors with—aside from the name—little to do with the Bally’s Corporation of the 20th century.

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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