Bally’s proposes selling casino stake to some city residents

The company said it is discussing terms of the offer, intended to help it meet requirements for ownership by racial minorities, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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A rendering of the planned Bally’s casino in Chicago.

Bally’s is working on a plan to sell a 25% share of its Chicago casino to city residents.

Provided

Chicago residents could be offered an ownership slice in the city’s first casino.

Its operator, Bally’s, said Tuesday it has proposed the casino stake in a draft registration statement submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Form S-1 statement is confidential for now, allowing the SEC and Bally’s to negotiate terms before details are made public.

Bally’s said its offer would be made to city residents who “satisfy the qualification requirements” of the Host Community Agreement it signed with city officials. The agreement specifies that at least 25% of the project’s equity must be held by minorities or by minority-owned and controlled businesses.

The commitment was one reason the Bally’s proposal got the backing of Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2022. The casino would replace the Chicago Tribune printing plant at 777 W. Chicago Ave. by 2026.

But details of the offering and whether shares will be sold to non-minorities are not known. A Bally’s spokesman could not be reached for comment.

“The number of ownership interests to be offered, the terms thereof and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined,” Bally’s said in its announcement of the proposal. “The initial public offering is expected to occur after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.”

The Providence, Rhode Island-based company said it makes no guarantees that the shares will be issued.

On the Chicago project’s website, Bally’s says, “Minority investors will own 25% of the project, and include philanthropists, business owners, sports stars, celebrities and everyday Chicagoans from the Black and Latino communities, as well as other ethnic and gender representation.”

The company is building a temporary casino in Chicago’s Medinah Temple, 600 N. Wabash Ave., that it said should be open by August. The Illinois Gaming Board has yet to approve the opening.

Bally’s reported its first quarter earnings for 2023. Citing strong growth across its casinos, resorts and digital gaming segments, it said its revenue rose 9% from the same period a year ago to $598.7 million, while net income grew to $178.3 million from $1.9 million. The improvement mostly stemmed from one-time gains on the sale-leaseback of properties.

Bally’s completed one such sale-leaseback on its Chicago site. Last week, the Chicago Tribune reported Bally’s agreed to buy out the lease the paper’s parent company, Tribune Publishing, holds on the printing plant. Bally’s has not commented on the deal.

The company owns and manages 15 casinos in 10 states. Besides the Chicago project, it is building a casino in State College, Pennsylvania.

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