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Corporation
LEISURE | Entertainment / Gambling (non-internet/mobile)
ballytech.com

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Founded Year

1968

Stage

Acq - P2P | Acquired

Valuation

$0000 

About Bally Technologies

Bally Technologies designs, manufactures, operates and distributes gaming devices, systems and technology solutions worldwide. Bally's product line includes reel-spinning slot machines, video slots, wide-area progressives, and Class II, lottery and central determination games and platforms. Bally Technologies also offers casino management, slot accounting, bonusing, cashless and table management solutions.

Bally Technologies Headquarter Location

6601 South Bermuda Road

Las Vegas, Nevada, 89119,

United States

Latest Bally Technologies News

Bally’s: Operation Next Gen

Oct 4, 2021

Bally’s: Operation Next Gen A year ago, the Bally’s name languished in Caesars Entertainment’s vaults. Since then, Twin River has purchased the brand and a roster of casino operations, sports betting deals, sports sponsorship, esports and online gaming companies that have become part of the Bally’s portfolio. It’s fair to say that the level of investment over the last twelve months is unparalleled in gaming history. How can one entity gather so many companies under one umbrella in such a short space of time, oversee all the different technologies, organisational structures, and environments – from land-based to online and sports betting – and effectively cohesively manage everything as one entity? In an extensive and insightful interview, Soohyung Kim, Chairman of Bally’s Corporation, explains how and why. A keynote speaker for SBC Summit North America, which will take place at the Meadowlands Exposition Center on November 30 – December 2, Mr. Kim details his vision for what’s next on a fascinating and, from an outsider’s perspective, unpredictable, Bally’s journey. Soo directly addresses the challenges facing the operator as it amalgamates and morphs into a regional casino-entertainment company with a fast-growing omni-channel presence of online sports betting and iGaming offerings in the US. Kicking off the interview, Soo explains his personal background in gaming, technology, and media – the three areas Bally’s has poured hundreds of millions into procuring. I am a turnaround investor who does a lot of restructuring to organisations, predominantly structural and financial. Whilst we invest capital, we also get involved as an investor to bring an owner-operator alignment to companies and clients that have lost it. I have spent a lot of time in traditional media such as television broadcasting, cable channels, radio, and billboards. If you see an old-line media company, I’ve probably looked at it in the past and been invested. Gaming is also a space I have spent a lot of time in – it’s a field that goes through a lot of booms and bust and has its own set of challenges. We have done several gaming turnarounds so it’s a space we know well. I’d be the first to say that I have very little background in technology. It’s interesting you ask that question because there is one common theme I see in companies today, especially in old-line companies having problems: the Al Gore invention of the internet that is growing every day, flattening the world, and making everything easier. To a lot of management teams, it’s a mystery. It’s this mystical thing – it’s technology, it’s the web. It makes sense because these teams got their jobs through being good at something, whatever the core business was, and not in technology (unless they are a technologist). One common theme that we have come across is that many teams say they don’t understand technology or outsource it. Every old business is also a new business. Every company is a technology company and needs to be to have a future. If you are not incorporating all the wondrous benefits of connectivity and communication into your business and customer base, then someone else is going to do it for you and take your old business with it. It’s so interesting that these new businesses with almost no capital led by relatively young and inexperienced people are destroying the incumbents and it’s happening across every space and field. This comes down to the self-limiting that comes from the incumbent management teams who say they don’t understand technology or technology is not their business. Every company is a technology company. Every management team needs to embrace it and a lot of what we do is to make sure that they are embracing it. It’s not necessarily that we are technology experts who have the answers. We are investors, but we believe that we can add a sense of perspective. Here are the resources, let’s get educated, look at where customers are going and deliver great experiences. At the end of the day, that’s what it is all about: the customer experience. Every old business was built by creating a customer experience that worked in its environment. What people must understand today is that in a technology enabled world the customer experiences have to have that with it, or it doesn’t work. Are you incorporating the latest capability? That’s the divide. A lot of what is empowering customer experiences are common goods. Therefore, a management team shouldn’t be incapable of incorporating them into a next generation customer experience. Are all the elements of Bally’s omni-channel offer weighted equally? Is gaming as important an aspect as technology and media – or does one trump the others? That’s interesting. I would define the problem as such – we have a licence to game and that’s a special, but limited, thing. We need to make sure that we have the technological expertise to deliver a next generation customer experience. Every company is defined by what the customer journey is, and gaming is the same. The journey had previously been going to a horse track, buying a lottery ticket, or going to a casino table. The advent of phones and universal connectivity changed that. Regulation is coming along slower, but along the same pathway. This may not answer the question directly, but I think the customer experience trumps all. Gaming is the licences that we have, media are some of the assets that we have access to, technology is a means to an end. But in the end, all we are is the sum of our customer experiences and we want to offer great ones. Let’s use technology to improve the current experience. Is the customer experience Bally’s competitive advantage? Not today. The experience we imagine our customers to have we’re not able to deliver yet. Our competitive advantages are that we have brought together a number of assets in different disciplines. With our gaming businesses we have the licence to game both physically and online. Through our Sinclair relationships we have access to a tonne of distribution to major sports such as baseball, basketball, and hockey, but also a myriad of other sports that play on their local TV channels and Stadium platform. Sinclair has the largest collection of local sports rights and so we are very happy to integrate into and contribute to that. Part of the deal is promotion and branding, but also included is the ability to influence what goes on with their distribution on their cable and TV channels when it comes to sports and gaming. Under the Bally flag, we are not only going to focus on the established, big sports, but also card sports. We bought a property called Live at the Bike which is a streaming poker game. There are several different things we want to do with that and saw it as an interesting kernel we can build upon in live gaming media. We also purchased the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) in the US because it is a turnaround which are investments we are attracted to and because we brought to the table the ability to gamify and distribute AVP through our Sinclair relationship. If gaming licences are our first asset and media relationships the second, these two things have led to us collecting other assets in the form of IP rights to execute on the gaming and media side. Finally, through our merger with Gamesys we have one of the world’s leading iGaming platforms. Alongside Bet.Works, Monkey Knife Fight, SportCaller, and Telescope, we have brought in their people and technological databases to help us evolve to the next generation. Our competitive advantages are the technology and people we have brought together, our media rights, distribution, and gaming licences. Media and gaming also come with large databases of existing customers that we can help bring on to this new product. We have suffered from one main disadvantage which was being really good at one thing. Because we’re trying to create a new thing and are in the process of collecting the assets to do it, it will take time for people to understand what we’re going to develop, but we’re okay with that. The assets we have collected will become the core of our competitive advantage in the future. If you think about the way a sports betting app works, they are all very similar. You have the teams, the wagers, the same buttons, the sports – they all look the same. I don’t think that’s a wonderful customer experience or journey. It is targeted to a skilled, sports interested audience and doesn’t attract casual gamers and non-sports fans. It has the power to, but it doesn’t expand the audience. It focuses it. Whilst I say we are not happy with it, we have bought a company that does just that. We have that ‘version’ – I call it 1.0. 2.0 will be an amalgam of bringing the Gamesys iGaming engine from Europe to the US with sports betting attached to it, but that’s not what we’re looking to ultimately build. What we’re trying to build is 3.0 – the next generation. Employing a metaphor, it’s like Windows is 1.0 – it barely works but you understand the concept. 2.0 is like Windows 95 – the first version that delivers on the promise but is still not what it was supposed to be. 3.0 is not Windows anymore, it’s something different. It’s an integrated product that delivers you media you can game with. It’s live, interactive, engaging, and builds audience. If you think about the existing structure of the gaming industry, you spend a lot of money on advertising to bring audiences from sports distribution to a sports betting platform to engage with sports through that thing. I think it’s fine, but it’s a 1.0 experience. I feel there is a better experience to be had. Has Covid created a unique set of circumstances and new opportunities, or had you set your sights on expansion regardless of the current climate? Covid has been good for us in two ways: i) It created a lot of uncertainty in physical gaming, but we had a clarity of vision in terms of licence value, offline gaming, and its recovery from Covid. We could go and do what other people were unable to do and expand our footprint. That was an advantage on the offline gaming side. ii) For online gaming, Covid proved that it has a future and accelerated its growth. Covid was a quickening event for the industry creating a lot more energy, belief, and capital. Both we have taken advantage of because we are building an online business and have built a physical business with scale. Is this opportunism, or strategically adding components to create a singular omni-channel brand? We are opportunistic by nature. I am an opportunist if that is someone who takes advantage of opportunity. We embrace that. To take true advantage of opportunity, you need to have a strategic vision. We were buying casinos not only because we believed they were going to recover in a physical gaming sense, but also because we believed they were good inroads to having a footprint of access for online gaming. That extra belief and strategic vision we had helped us make clearer decisions. Opportunity is not just ‘that is a cheap tomato, I’m going to go and buy it’ and then you realise it’s overripe and you can’t eat it. It’s not just based on price. You need to know you can go home and whip up this wonderful meal with that fantastically priced tomato. The best form of opportunism requires a certain level of strategic vision. Bally’s has been through many cycles of growth, diversification, contraction and narrowing of focus. Launched in the 1930s on the success of its Ballyhoo pinball game, Bally Manufacturing and Bally operations went their separate ways years ago, but the story of ‘Bally’ as an operator of casinos, Total Fitness health clubs, Six Flags amusement parks and manufacturing, not just of slots, but Life Fitness gym equipment, is an epic saga that charts the rise, fall, rise of a diverse empire. The fact that Bally’s sold its lottery division in the 1990s, to have that same company return to acquire Bally Technologies in 2014, is just part of its legend. Does the scale of the brand help describe the company you’re now trying to build and attract the level of investment required for your expansion? Absolutely. It is serendipitous. It just turned out we had an opportunity to acquire the brand which really wasn’t being used. As you say, the brand had ties to carnival games, pinball machines, slots, amusement parks, and gyms. Because of what we want to do with this brand, it will make it easier to spend the investment. In terms of brand building, we don’t have to do that much because it is being built every day. We just need to deliver on the customer promise. How significant is the rebrand of the Fox Sports Network to Bally Sports Network in what you are trying to achieve? The rebrand was critical if you think about our continued transition from being a physical gaming company to an online gaming company. In the physical gaming world, regional brands exist. It consists of regional advertising and customers are within a 60-mile radius and this means you can have operators that own multiple brands -offering an illusion of choice. But if you are operating on a national scale, it doesn’t make sense to have what we have today where we have, quite literally, 16 different casinos with 16 different brands. We always knew there was going to be an opportunity at some point to buy a brand or establish a brand to unify the whole system. We were waiting for the right asset at the right price so the ability to acquire the Bally brand name was critical. It gives us a corporate identity nationally from our casino footprint and allows us to lever the footprint online. Applying that same brand to what was previously called Fox Sports Network was an incredible opportunity. Bally’s is a brand that has good name recognition as it has been around for 100 years and has no negative connotation. To apply that to the home for half the baseball, basketball, and hockey games globally, you can’t turn on sports without seeing us. Three quarters of the time viewers are watching a match they are seeing the brand. The impression numbers are in the billions and that’s a wonderful thing. When we do deliver on how we would redefine our customer experience, Bally’s will mean something. Currently, Bally’s is a soft call to sport, gaming, and entertainment. We will make it mean something. That is the current journey we are on, and we are very happy about distributing that brand across multiple disciplines because the product we are creating is a multi-disciplinary product. Are the disciplines totally different between running regional and Strip casinos to operating a sports betting brand, online gaming offering, to fantasy sports and mobile betting? What’s the common thread and what differences do you need to juggle? They are completely different, but the same. Everything is about the customer experience and journey. With a physical casino, you can do things that you cannot do online like offering a meal or accommodation. Online you cannot do those things but can engage a customer in a manner that is hyper targeted. In a micro sense, the businesses are completely different. As you pan backwards, they are the same. It’s a customer having an engaging gaming experience, whether its physical or online. Appreciating the differences and similarities correctly will help us manage both. The biggest challenge is that most people look at it one way or another and so the whole concept of omnichannel is just getting started. There are people that will figure it out the same way as we are. It’s not going to be unique to us, but I do think there aren’t that many people looking at it the way we are currently. European online gaming is well advanced relative to the US, but physical gaming is not. There are many examples of betting shop operators that now have a very strong presence online because of their betting shops. Although there are strong online-only players in Europe, the omnichannel experience is better defined. In the US, we have bigger physical presences but has anyone been able to convert that to an online experience? I’m not sure. Look at the most developed online state, New Jersey. The physical and online market leaders are not the same, whereas in Europe a lot of the big online operators have a big physical presence. Omnichannel in the US will be different. What are you looking for as you staff all these different projects? What are the common traits and the specific disciplines you need to become an omni-channel entertainment, technology, and gaming provider? We can’t find enough good people. Gaming hasn’t historically attracted the best and brightest of technology. In fact, most gaming companies outsource their technology to manufacturers. Can we attract these people to our company and show them the future is huge when we use gaming, media, and distribution to create a new thing that is a viable, competitive, multidisciplinary, next-generation platform with a wonderful customer experience? I think when we are share this vision, the people we are looking for will want to understand the magnitude of it, are excited by it and want to contribute. We are looking for people – there is not a division in our company that is fully staffed. We have needs across the board. We should attract entrepreneurial people who want to build something new. One might ask why can’t they go off on their own and do it? We bring unique advantages including the licences, brand, distribution, and customer base. Do it here and see it succeed is what I would tell anyone who is interested in joining. We’ve written multiple articles from B2B brands talking about operators painting themselves into corners by acquiring and operating in-house technology. How do you ensure this doesn’t happen and why is it so important for Bally to own its technology? Great question. B2B is a different model as it’s ‘let’s create something that works for everybody’. Let’s look at who we are and what we want to become. We are a company focused on delivering the best media and gaming experiences to our customer base and we intend to lever technology to get there. In the end, if it touches your customer, you want that to be a proprietary experience that is differentiated from somebody else that has your own features built into it. Let’s say you discover something you know customers are going to be attracted to. Do you really want to share it with everybody? I understand the B2B world, and I think there are times when that makes a lot of sense, but I think the US has certain higher barriers including licensing, specifically the cost and difficulty of attaining a licence, that there is going to be limited competitors. There is more upside in creating a differentiated experience. As such, we believe in one basic rule: if it touches the customer, we should own it, because if it’s all about being a customer experience-focused company, then let’s control the experience. That’s why we have made the decision we have, and I believe we are on the right side of history on this. I do see that in Europe a lot of B2B operators have succeeded, but in the US, it feels like more operators are coming to the decision point that we have. They’ll start out B2B, but as they look to create a more differentiated experience and gain competitive advantage, they’ll look to own their own technology. How do you gather so many companies under one umbrella and oversee all those different technologies, different organisational structures, and environments from land-based to online and sports betting – and effectively cohesively manage everything as one entity? As best you can. We don’t have the number answer on this. The first thing is that we must be very clear as to what our mission is and share that vision of a 3.0 product. Acquisitions fit into that by helping get from point A to point B on that journey. Finding the right assets and people who you believe can operate within this structure is crucial. We are more decentralised and in so being we are trying to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit. As we mature and move forward, the groups in the process will become less entrepreneurial and more optimised. Right now, I am trying to maintain our entrepreneurism because we are trying to jump ahead. You are correctly identifying the challenges that we have and what we are trying to do is be very clear in our shared beliefs, ensure everyone has the right resources and the clearance to make mistakes on our journey. The nice thing is that we have two core businesses to a degree – the physical gaming and international online gaming businesses. They are both great and operating well. One of the things we do is to say ‘let’s not take away from this’. Let these things run the way they are, build our US Interactive division inside of this company by bringing in people, resources, and best practices, but we want to nurture this thing. Eventually we’ll bring it all together, but we will and need to be patient. Some people will argue that if you wanted to do that why not leave them as separate companies? You want everyone to work towards the same goal without them wondering what’s in it for them. Bringing them all under the flag will undoubtedly help us get there, even though it brings a much more challenging start to that process. What is your vision for the land-based casinos you’ve acquired? Are they to be homogenised? Great question. They will be homogenised to a certain extent into a unified brand and players club. We have a plan to seamlessly integrate many elements of our technology in terms of physical customer management with an online experience. The leading online players are online casinos, so they don’t care about this. The leading physical casino companies are starting online efforts but have such a large business on the physical side they are almost afraid of it. We are in a unique position because we have the third most extensive footprint in America, but also have an online international business of the same size profitability wise. Are we a technology company? We have a thousand technologies now. Are we a physical gaming company? We have an extensive footprint. We are both. If we can carry out the mission, we have less friction points. However, the friction points are there. We have all these companies that are not completely integrated working on entrepreneurial things to achieve something that has never been done before. I believe that friction point is much less than the stance of ‘that’s not our business, I’m not doing that’. We want to become a gaming company that cares about your experience whilst you are in our land-based casinos and when you’re not. How can you expand so quickly and remain profitable when many of the land-based assets you’re acquiring are a little ‘stressed’? We have a great team of turnaround managers that I have worked with for a long time that understand how to optimise a tired older casino and make it hum. My conception of our company is that we have two engines that are running strong and generating profits, which we can then invest in a growth engine. That’s challenging, but I think it’s more challenging to hit your growth numbers every day because you need to tap the market all the time. We don’t have to do that. We have a profitable existing business whilst getting to grow the future. It’s not a challenge, but an opportunity. Are there still holes in your technology portfolio that you’re looking to fill – and in what areas is there still opportunity to solidify your offer? Yes. There are a few different areas of focus for us. We believe that we have a kernel of sports betting technology, iGaming, FTP, DFS. We are good on those, but there are other forms of gaming. We believe that whilst there are all these interactive ways to game, technology reduces the barriers between them. It’s going to and is converging. The varying gaming spaces all have their own strengths and weaknesses, but we believe that we can add other elements to bring those strengths together and address the weaknesses. We are still looking at other complementary businesses and assets that will supplement our customer experience and acquisition. Those are our two ultimate long-term margins. Harrah’s customer loyalty programme, Total Gold, revolutionised the way that casinos interacted with players in the late 1990s and changed the fortunes of the company and the way every casino marketed itself into the future. Does the combination of all the elements you’re gathering into a singular brand, that’s rapidly expanding its footprint by integrating its own technology across all aspects of the business – is this another game-changing moment? I hope so. Mining your customer interaction data as a multi-property company with a big footprint makes a lot of sense. Caesars and Harrah’s invented it, others have followed and B2B providers will help you achieve it. But if you think about the next level, gaming is not limited to the casino, and your customer data isn’t limited to the time you are sitting at tables or slot machines. When you think about combining that data with the data sets that come off sports media, FTP gaming interactions etc., there are so many interactions that you can combine more share of time and wallet to build better user experiences. It’s interesting how casino companies hire third-party companies for data all the time, the same way old-line businesses outsourced credit checks. That’s your data! Why outsource it to anybody? Casinos provide marketers casino credit. A casino will take a chance on the customer but if they don’t pay you back, they are on a blacklist. A long time ago, casinos decided to combine that into a database called casino credit which was owned by a third-party so now you pay a third-party to essentially aggregate casino credit and customer behaviour. But is that the future or the past? I think you know my answer. I don’t want to besmirch a product, particularly one we still use today, but is that the future? Alternatively, should we buy a product from another third-party company that gives us back our customer data in a process form or should we just capture our customer data, which we do anyway, process it ourselves and compare it to third-party databases and get to the same or better place. When your customer walks in, you should get a stake. Third parties will develop B2B products that will engage the most common assets to the largest customer base. But we don’t have common assets. We only have the assets we have. We should mine our customer data to create the most wonderful experiences with our assets. It’s just a different attitude, and this is the conversation that we started the interview with: is it opportunism, strategy, or both? I don’t think there is opportunism without strategy. There isn’t innovation without a vision. The past couple of years has seen Steve Wynn removed from the board, the passing of Sheldon Adelson, Stanley Ho, Georges Tranchant and Sol Kerzner. Having been an industry guided by such potent personalities for the best part of half a century and more, is it fair to say the new reality is one in which investment funds determine the trajectory of the business from this period forward? Gaming isn’t a space that has been heavily invest fund focused. It has mostly been public companies or entrepreneurs who have pushed it forward historically. I don’t think the empire building days are ever over, but the nature of the empires being built are different. There will always be empires and optimisation. “We have a general belief that the injection of technology into gaming is a great thing and will create better customer experiences, expand the market, and allow for things that people haven’t even imagined yet. We are not even close to the possibilities, or even imagining the possibilities. I’m excited for gaming. It speaks to people in a very visceral and instinctive level. The empires of the future are going to look different, and they will be bigger than ever. Mr. Kim has served as an independent director of Bally’s Corporation and the preceding entity Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc. since 2016. Mr. Kim is the Founding Partner of Standard General L.P., an investment firm, and is the firm’s Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer. Mr. Kim has been investing in special situations strategies since 1997, including as co-founder of Cyrus Capital Partners from 2005 to 2007 and at Och-Ziff Capital Management from 1999 to 2005, where he was a Principal and co-founder of its fixed income business. Prior to joining Och-Ziff Capital Management, Mr. Kim was an analyst for the Capital Management Group at Bankers Trust Company from 1997 to 1999. Mr. Kim is a Director of Coalition for Queens, a Director and Treasurer of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and the President of the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association. Mr. Kim is a former member of the board of directors of Greektown Superholdings and Media General, Inc., and the board of managers of ALST Casino Holdco, LLC. Share via:

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Bally Technologies Patents

Bally Technologies has filed 1392 patents.

The 3 most popular patent topics include:

  • Slot machines
  • Gaming devices
  • Slot machine manufacturers
patents chart

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9/24/2019

9/21/2021

Diagrams, Nintendo consoles, Systems analysis, Gaming devices, Chemical processes

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9/21/2021

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