After Kevin Ortzman, former regional president of the three Caesars Atlantic City casino properties, was removed from that post last year, the vacant position needed to be filled.
How Ronald Baumann became the new regional president and CEO
Caesars chose Ronald Baumann, a casino industry veteran and former general manager of Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack as Ortzman’s replacement. Baumann had also held several senior leadership positions with Caesars Entertainment in Atlantic City.
On October 2, 2019, the Casino Control Commission approved the choice. It voted unanimously to grant Baumann a temporary license to serve as the regional president.
Eight months later, as reported in a June 10, 2020 article on PressofAtlanticCity.com, the Commission approved Baumann for a regular license.
Baumann expressed his great appreciation for the Commission’s vote of confidence in him. Upon hearing of his official appointment, he issued the following comment.
“It is both a privilege and an honor to be granted and to hold a gaming license in the state of New Jersey, and I want to thank both the commission and the (Division of Gaming Enforcement) for granting my key license today,” Baumann said in a statement. “I am looking forward to safely reopening and operating our facilities with our health and wellness protocols for our team and guests.”
Will Bally’s and Caesar’s part ways?
We still don’t know the exact date when Atlantic City’s nine casinos will receive permission to reopen. However, assuming the order will come sometime in July, it’s a safe bet that Baumann will still be at the helm of all three Caesars Entertainment-owned casinos at that time, including Bally’s.
In other words, much of the responsibility will rest with him to make sure that all of the Caesars Atlantic City casino properties–including Bally’s–reopen smoothly and that the necessary health and safety measures are in place and enforced.
By the end of the year, if not sooner, Baumann’s job description might be very different though. For starters, with the exception of The Book–the largest sportsbook in Atlantic City–and the Wild Wild West Casino where The Book is located, Caesars might no longer own Bally’s.
I reported the pending sale in my 4/28/20 article “Bally’s Atlantic City Is Being Sold To VCI Properties.” On 4/24, Caesars Entertainment and VICI Properties (a subsidiary of Twin River Worldwide Holdings) jointly announced their agreement as to the following:
- Twin River will pay Caesars $25 million for Bally’s Atlantic City.
- Caesars will give $6 million of this money back to Twin River in exchange for returning Bally’s Wild Wild West and The Book.
Why Caesars wants to unload Bally’s
Caesars would hate to lose the two most profitable businesses within Bally’s AC–the Wild Wild West and the sportsbook. But otherwise, it has wanted to unload the underperforming property for some time.
Also, another major deal on the table–the likely merger of Caesars and Eldorado Resorts–has a significantly better chance of succeeding with fewer casinos under the Caesars corporate umbrella. Eldorado Resorts already owns Tropicana Atlantic City. So if Caesars were to keep all three Atlantic City casinos, a single company would control four of the nine AC casinos.
Practical considerations–why it’s taking so long
Keep in mind that neither the sale of Bally’s nor the expected Caesars-Eldorado merger can take place just yet. Obviously, with all of the Atlantic City casinos still closed, both deals are still up in the air. They remain a long way off from being finalized.
However, according to the June 10 article appearing on The PressofAtlanticCity.com, the sale of Bally’s to Twin River Holdings is “expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.”
Twin River’s plan for Bally’s
If Twin River becomes the new owner of Bally’s it will almost certainly need to make some major investments toward property enhancements. The quality of entertainment also needs improvement.
Even with all of the built-in advantages the property had simply by being part of the world-renowned Caesars brand, along with its participation in the outstanding Caesars Rewards program, Bally’s Atlantic City has been struggling.
In the hands of a new owner with no prior experience in Atlantic City, I foresee what could be a monumental task getting players to come to the property.
Ocean Casino Resort struggled for months before it finally found its niche with the help of its new owner, Luxor Capital, and started turning a profit.
How is the proposed Caesars-Eldorado merger progressing?
If this deal goes through, it will also apply to other gambling jurisdictions, not just Atlantic City. So far, more than a dozen states have given their approval. However, New Jersey, Nevada, and Indiana still need to weigh in, and ultimately, federal regulators will need to approve the merger as well.
If these ownership changes take place, how will they affect the Caesars Rewards program?
For as long as Caesars retains ownership of Bally’s AC, that casino will remain part of the Caesars Rewards program. If and when ownership shifts to a new owner, I think we can assume that Bally’s will be dropped from the Caesars Rewards network.
It will then become contingent on the new owner to offer a viable replacement player’s rewards program.
Eldorado Resorts currently owns only one Atlantic City, casino, Tropicana. Accordingly, Tropicana players can keep their existing Tropicana Advantage loyalty program benefits for now. However, if and when the merger with Caesars becomes finalized, Tropicana will presumably become a Caesars Rewards casino instead.
Summary and conclusion
As I stated in my April 28 article, I am not happy about the pending sale of Bally’s. I also have mixed feelings about the proposed Caesars Entertainment/Eldorado Resorts merger.
Speaking on behalf of players, I think the majority would like the existing casinos to remain as they are. On the other hand, casinos base their decisions on what makes the most sense from a business standpoint.
Therefore, on top of the immediate need to adjust to the new “normal” with all of the challenges and restrictions associated with social distancing in an environment not conducive to it, the likely major restructuring will create more upheaval.
But Atlantic City has shown its resilience before. So hopefully, this new chapter in the resort’s ongoing ups and downs in what now totals 42 years of legalized casino gambling and two years of legalized sports betting will be positive.
As always, here at NJ Online Casino, we will continue to inform you of all important updates as they happen.