Rhode Island-based Casino Operator Moving Into Big Time With Latest Purchases

Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc. (TRWH) announced that it was acquiring three casino resorts from Eldorado Resorts Inc. and Caesars Entertainment Corp. The two gaming companies are in the process of consummating a merger.

The move boosts the Providence-based company’s holdings and gives it a presence in three major casino markets.

From Eldorado TRWH bought the MontBleu Resort, Casino, and Spa in Lake Tahoe and the Eldorado Resort Casino in Shreveport. Louisiana. 

From Caesars Twin River acquired Bally’s Atlantic City. Since its 1979 opening, Bally’s has seen ups and downs. For many years one of the city’s top revenue-producing casinos, in recent years Bally’s has moved to the bottom of the Caesars portfolio. A new owner and focus might bring the resort back to its former prominence.

“Our executive team collectively has had many years of experience in [the Atlantic City] market and our current operating model fits very well there. Getting to own Bally’s, with its center of the Boardwalk location, was also incredibly attractive to us.”

The trifecta of new properties fits into Twin River’s recent expansion strategy.

According to Twin River Worldwide Holdings President and CEO George Papanier, the recent acquisition was long in the making.

George Papanier, Twin River Worldwide Holdings President and CEO

“Aside from the fact that the properties each brought something unique to our portfolio, these were opportunities that were presented to us at different times in 2019,” he said. “So we were familiar with them, and had had an opportunity to do a fair amount of due diligence at that time, so they were already on our radar. When this opportunity arose again we negotiated a good price and knew they would be immediately accretive to earnings upon closing of this transaction.”

Papanier says that each of the properties has tremendous upside.

Eldorado has owned the Shreveport casino since 2005, when it acquired the property from Hollywood Casinos. MontBleu opened as the Park Tahoe in 1978, but was known as Caesars Tahoe between 1979 and 2006, when it took its current name. Combined with the purchases in Mississippi, Missouri and Nevada, the deal helps Caesars and Eldorado shed properties in markets where they would have considerable overlap, and it gives Twin River access to gaming in three new states.

“Eldorado Shreveport is a top-tier property in the market, and has a lot of characteristics of our Hard Rock Biloxi property where we have had considerable success,” he said. “MontBleu is a beautiful property that recently went through a major renovation, and will be a great reward destination for guests throughout our portfolio.”

While Twin River isn’t a household name for many gaming industry followers, it has quietly built itself into a rising force in the business. The original Twin River casino is nearly as big as the MGM Grand’s casino floor in Las Vegas, with more than 162,000 square feet of gaming space, 4,000 slot machines and 111 table games, as well as a race and sportsbook.  

Twin River’s first property was its namesake former racetrack in Lincoln, R.I., and, since 2014, the company has grown considerably, adding properties in Colorado, Mississippi and Delaware, as well as a new casino in Rhode Island.

For customers new to Twin River, Papanier says that they can expect a customized approach based on larger regional trends.

“We tailor the customer experience of our properties around what is influential. We are not a one size fits all company and we view that as one of our strengths. For example, Twin River Casino Hotel Lincoln has a completely different experience than Hard Rock Casino Hotel Biloxi, with different brands of restaurants and types of amenities that cater specifically to each market.”

But even though the markets change, the same underlying approach to the customers is present, Papanier says.

“What is consistent about our company is our commitment to unparalleled customer service and value.  When guests visit a Twin River Worldwide Holdings property, they never will be treated or rewarded better.”

New owners often make changes at their properties, starting with the names. Papanier says that the MontBleu brand will remain in Lake Tahoe, but that Bally’s Atlantic City and Eldorado Shreveport will be getting new names.

As an Atlantic City native, one name leaps out to me for a renamed Bally’s: Park Place. A well-known brand, thanks to being prominently featured in the venerable board game Monopoly, Park Place conveys luxury and sophistication. Until 2000, the casino was known as Bally’s Park Place. Comprising the original Dennis hotel and a more recent high-rise tower, a refurbished Park Place could be a signature property for Twin River. It is also a name that can play well online, where Twin River intends to launch sports betting and igaming efforts.

Those who already play at the casinos Twin River has just picked up may be wondering what exactly is going to change. Papanier says that things will only get better.

“Twin River Worldwide Holdings has a marketing and gaming centric philosophy, so players can expect a more aggressive marketing effort that is player relationship driven. In the short term, we think continuity is important to calming customer uncertainties during any ownership transition, which is way we work so hard to make the process as smooth as possible for the customer,” he says.

The future will bring even more improvements.

“We will build on the initial impressions with certain marketing strategies supported by longer-term capital investment plans to bring the customer experience to a level these properties have not seen before,” Papanier says. “If you look at the other properties in our portfolio, we have a proven history of transforming locations for the better, and we are confident that players will see the same type of improvements at these properties, as well.”

Players at all three new Twin River casinos, then, have many reasons to give these properties another look. Likely not the last acquisitions of an industry going through unprecedented changes, they nevertheless will change the competitive landscape in their respective markets.

Credit: Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc.

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