Sinclair Broadcasting to rename sports channels after Bally’s casinos

November 18, 2020 

Sinclair Broadcast Group has signed a deal to name its 21 regional sports channels after casino operator Bally’s Corp. in the latest major bet on sports gambling, The Post has learned.

The deal calls for Sinclair — which owns exclusive media rights to 42 US sports teams including the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Detroit Tigers, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals — to rebrand its 21 sports networks Bally Sports, source said.

The channels are currently named after Fox Sports because Sinclair bought them last year from Disney to clear regulatory hurdles tied to its purchase of 21st Century Fox.

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 access to fans of 14 Major League Baseball teams, 16 National Basketball Association teams and 12 National Hockey League teams, sources said.

Separately, Bally’s is buying sports-betting software company Bet.Works for roughly $100 million, sources said. Bally’s, which plans to launch its online sports betting platform by June, can then use its broadcasting deal with Sinclair to attempt to drive traffic to its site, sources said.

The casino company, which was recently known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings before it bought the right to the Bally’s name, has casinos in 10 states and can offer online gaming in the eight states where sports betting is already legal and it has physical casinos.

It means 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 go to the site and make their wagers, 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. Still, the deal marks the latest big bet on sport gambling.

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.

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

In addition to the 21 channels, Sinclair owns a minority stake in New York’s YES Network, which broadcasts New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games. But the Bally’s deal won’t apply in NY, sources said.

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