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The Tropicana is no longer the shiniest resort on the Las Vegas Strip, but it gives Bally's Corp. a much-desired presence in the heart of Sin City.

Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corp. Tuesday agreed to purchase the Tropicana Las Vegas Hotel and Casino for $308 million.

While the overall Tropicana deal is valued at $308 million, Bally’s is only buying the operations of the 1,470-room resort. Current owner Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. will continue to own the land beneath the casino and lease it to Bally’s for $10.5 million annually. The deal is expected to close early next year.

“Landing a preeminent spot on the Las Vegas Strip is a key step for us,” Bally’s Corp. CEO George Papanier said in a statement.

Ben Jaffe, a Miami hotelier and partial owner of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, bought the land for the Tropicana in 1955 with the intention of creating a high-end resort. The Tropicana eventually opened in 1957, and the $15 million development cost — billed as the most-expensive in Vegas at the time — gave the resort the nickname the “Tiffany of the Strip.”

But the Tropicana went through various owners as well as ties to organized crime when members of the mafia were skimming winnings off the casino. The Tropicana of today is far more corporatized and operates as a DoubleTree by Hilton.

The resort, long seen for its development potential at the southern edge of the Strip by the Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand resorts, traded hands several times in recent years.

Penn National Gaming bought it in 2015 for $360 million before selling off the real estate last year to GLPI, its own spin-off company, for roughly $308 million — the same price as the Bally’s deal.

Bally’s Corp. is not to be confused with Bally’s Las Vegas, a 2,800-room resort owned by Caesar’s Entertainment. The expected new owner of the Tropicana currently owns 12 properties like Bally’s Atlantic City and others in secondary or tertiary gaming markets like Biloxi, Mississippi.

The GLPI deal for the Tropicana also included a $150 million sale-leaseback for Bally’s casinos in Black Hawk, Colo., and Rock Island, Ill. GLPI would take on ownership of those casinos, and Bally’s would pay $12 million in annual rent to continue on as the operator.

The Las Vegas transaction is notable more for the name involved than price, especially following news earlier this year Las Vegas Sands will sell its Venetian Resort and neighboring Sands Expo and Convention Center to investment firm Apollo Global Management for $6.25 billion.

While no price tag was given, investor Dreamscape announced earlier this year plans to overhaul its Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino into a variety of Hyatt brands.

It wasn’t long ago when many questioned the viability of Vegas moving forward, especially with the future of conventions looking so uncertain and many casino companies acquiring online gaming platforms.

UK-based Gamesys agreed to Bally’s Corp.’s $2.7 billion takeover bid earlier this year. Caesars is in the process of a nearly $4 billion acquisition of William Hill, another UK-based gaming platform.

But many of these companies stress the push to online gaming is about having a variety of offerings rather than giving up on in-person casinos.

“We believe that this combination would mark a transformational step in our journey to become a leading integrated, omni-channel gaming company,” Soo Kim, chairman of Bally’s, said earlier this year of the Gamesys acquisition.

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Tags: coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, las vegas

Photo credit: The Tropicana resort in Las Vegas is the latest Sin City property to trade hands during the pandemic. Richard Martin / Flickr

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