Sinclair Makes Big Bet on Gaming with Bally's

(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sinclair Broadcast Group has made a big move into gaming, reaching a long-term partnership with Bally’s.

The deal will give Sinclair warrants and options to own a minority stake in Bally’s while Bally’s will be able to integrate its content across Sinclair’s 190 TV stations and sports networks.

Sinclair’s regional sports networks, disrupted last season as COVID-19 canceled and postponed games, will be rebranded using the Bally's moniker. Over 10 years, Sinclair’s RSNs will receive naming rights fees and a committed percentage of Bally’s Interactive’s marketing spending.

Related: Sinclair Talks $4.2 Billion Writedown on Sports Nets

Sinclair is one of the largest TV station owners in the country. It has also been one of the most controversial for some of the conservative commentary it has inserted into its newscasts.

For the past few years, Sinclair has been making investments in sports, first buying The Tennis Channel, then acquiring the Fox Regional Sports networks from the Walt Disney Co., which had to divest them after buying 21st Century Fox.

Related: Sinclair RSNs: Timing Is Everything

While some investors have questioned the acquisition of the RSNs as they've been dropped by distributors, reducing their subscriber revenue, Sinclair has been saying that it had big plans for sports, and that those plans include gaming.

"Since acquiring Tennis Channel a few years ago and the RSNs last year, we have been working on developing an innovative experience that changes the way people think about and view live sports across all our platforms,” said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley.

"Bally's, with its strong brand name, premier sportsbook technology platform and expansive market access, is the perfect partner to help us change the paradigm of sports viewing across all our assets," Ripley said. "By integrating gamification elements that allow audiences a more personalized and interactive game experience, consumers of live sports in the future can look forward to a more dynamic and engaging sports viewing experience. With the U.S. sports betting and iGaming market expected to ultimately reach $50 billion at maturity, this partnership perfectly positions our sports portfolio to fully capitalize on changing audience behavior."

Related: Sinclair Trying to Restructure Debt from RSNs: Report

The deal is designed to position Bally's as a premier omni-channel gaming company with physical casinos and online sports betting and iGaming solutions united under a single brand. They expect Bally's to capture a significant share of the fast-growing U.S. sports betting and iGaming market.

“This arrangement represents an opportunity to revolutionize the U.S. sports betting, gaming and media industries," said Soo Kim, chairman of Bally's Corporation's Board of Directors. 

"Sinclair, with its broad holdings of stations, channels and RSNs, provides immediate, national brand recognition that will support the development of Bally's player database for both our traditional casinos as well as our future online offerings, and ultimately deliver significant shareholder value,” he said. “We look forward to integrating our first-in-class, omni-channel sports betting and iGaming offerings with Sinclair's expansive broadcast network to create a more engaging and tailored experience for sports fans, positioning Bally's to become one of the top U.S. sports betting and iGaming operators."

Sinclair is holding a conference call with investors Thursday morning to discuss the deal.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.