Sinclair Broadcast Group to rename sports channels after Bally’s casinos

November 19, 2020 

Sinclair Broadcast Group and casino operator Bally’s Corp. are teaming up to bet big on sports gambling, The Post has learned.

The two companies just signed a deal for Sinclair to rename its 21 sports networks Bally Sports, source said.

Bally’s, which owns Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, will pay Sinclair $85 million over a 10-year period for the naming rights, giving it exclusive access to fans of 42 major teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Detroit Tigers, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals, sources said.

The goal, sources said, is for viewers to eventually be able to bet on games using a Bally’s online gaming tool directly from their TVs.

Sinclair’s channels are currently named after Fox Sports because it bought them last year to help clear Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox.

The broadcast company will also get a 15 percent stake in the Nasdaq-listed Bally’s and will have the right to up its stake by another 15 percent if it hits certain financial targets, sources said.

Separately, Bally’s is buying sports-betting software company Bet.Works for roughly $100 million and will attempt to drive traffic to its site through Sinclair, sources said.

The casino company, controlled by Soo Kim’s Standard General hedge fund, can launch the new online gaming tool in the states where sports betting is legal, including Nevada, Louisiana, Colorado and New Jersey, if it also has a physical casino there.

Bally’s, which recently changed its name from Twin River Worldwide Holdings, currently has casinos in 10 states, including Nevada, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island, Colorado, New Jersey and Louisiana.

The partnership will mean that sports fans in Louisiana, which just approved sports betting this month, could get a plug for Bally’s new sports betting site in the midst of watching a New Orleans Pelicans basketball games, prompting them to make their wagers using Bally’s website, sources said.

MBL, the NBA and NHL still need to sign off on whether Bally’s can sponsor broadcasts to advertise their sports betting tools, sources said.

Sinclair also owns a minority stake in New York’s YES Network, which broadcasts Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games, but the deal doesn’t extend to YES, sources said.

The deal marks the latest big bet on the burgeoning sport betting market. In August, billionaire Barry Diller forked over $1 billion for a 12 percent stake in MGM resorts, saying he was drawn to the hotel and casino chain’s burgeoning online gaming business.

For Sinclair, a sports-betting partnership could help drive up views at a time when its investment in local sports networks has been sagging. Sinclair bought the Fox channels from Disney in August 2019 for $9.6 billion only to write down their value earlier this month by $4.23 billion, or nearly half.

Cable networks and streaming services were already paying less for the right to air games when the pandemic hit and dramatically reduced the number of games shown on TV. Dish Networks, Hulu and YouTube, meanwhile, have all dropped the Fox sports channels from their lineups.

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