Bally’s Battles for Bronx Casino Amid Legal Hurdles and Heavy Competition

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In a recent twist of events, Bally’s, whose stocks are making waves on the NYSE, has set its sights on forging a new path of glory in the Bronx, NY. This gaming giant, relentlessly optimistic despite political hurdles, is hoping to secure a permit to whip up a casino hotel laid with its namesake.

Previously in 2020, this Rhode Island-hailed regional casino operator seized the lease rights to the erstwhile Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, nestled in the Bronx. Behind this acquisition was an ambitious plan to birth a glimmering integrated resort on the coveted property. The Trump Organization — the business empire of the former president —sold the rights to Bally’s in return for a hefty $60 million. Eager to curry favor with the city, Bally’s erased the Trump name from the property, christening it “Bally Links”.

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According to a recent dialogue with News 12, Chairman Soo Kim of Bally’s painted a vision that carried “the largest private investment in the Bronx.” However, the gaming operator’s dreams for a new venue on the chosen lands might have to grapple with existing laws, as the property is designated as parkland. The only way to realign this designation would be through legislation. Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, the district’s representative, hasn’t yet floated such a proposal.

Bally’s, however, has a window of opportunity. The 2024 legislative session in New York came to a close last week without any progress on expediting the downstate casino approval process. Prospects of an early decision on the recipients of the three elusive NYC-area casino permits seem dim, and final judgments likely won’t be cast until late 2025 or even early 2026. This could be a saving grace for organizations like Bally’s, offering them time to solidify their support base and encourage lawmakers to work on an amendment to the parkland designation.

Meanwhile, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Hard Rock International are facing a similar quandary in Queens. It is worth noting that Bronx’s Bally’s isn’t the only player in the field. Among the 11 contenders for the three downstate casino permits, industry consensus places MGM Resorts International’s Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World New York in Queens as prime candidates for two of those permits. Other likely players for the third permit could include Las Vegas Sands in Nassau County and Wynn Resorts in Hudson Yards.

While Bally’s is optimistic about its Bronx ambitions, the gaming giant seems to have too many balls in the air. With the pending acquisition negotiations and the completion of a permanent Chicago casino, some investors suggest that Bally’s should give its NYC dreams a rest to conserve resources. Yet, while the Bronx casino endeavor may be far from a done deal, this unfolding story is sure to keep stakeholders on their toes as Bally’s navigates the intricate labyrinth of the gaming industry’s future.