Bally Manufacturing

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Bally Manufacturing
IndustryInteractive entertainment
FateAcquired by Hilton
FoundedJanuary 10, 1932; 87 years ago (1932-01-10)
FounderRaymond Moloney
DefunctDecember 18, 1996; 22 years ago (1996-12-18)
HeadquartersChicago
ProductsPinball
slot machines
later expanded into casinos, video games, health clubs, and theme parks

Bally Manufacturing, later renamed Bally Entertainment, was an American company that began as a pinball and slot machine manufacturer, and later expanded into casinos, video games, health clubs, and theme parks. It was acquired by Hilton Hotels in 1996, its brand name is still used by several businesses previously linked to Bally Manufacturing, most notably Bally Technologies.

History[edit]

The Bally Manufacturing Corporation was founded by Raymond Moloney on January 10, 1932, when Bally's original parent, Lion Manufacturing, established the company to make pinball games; the company took its name from its first game, Ballyhoo. The company, based in Chicago, quickly became a leading maker of the games. In the late 1930s, Moloney began making gambling equipment, and had great success developing and improving the mechanical slot machines that were the core of the nascent gaming industry. After manufacturing munitions and airplane parts during World War II, Bally Manufacturing Corporation continued to produce innovations in flipperless pinball machines, bingo machines, payout machines and console slot machines through the late 1950s, they also designed and manufactured vending machines and established a coffee vending service. The company made a brief venture into the music business with their own record label, Bally Records.[1]

Moloney died in 1958, and the company floundered briefly. With the financial failure of its parent company, Bally was bought out by a group of investors in 1963. Throughout the 1960s, Bally continued to dominate the slot machine industry, cornering over 90% of the worldwide market by the end of the decade. In 1964, Bally introduced the first electromechanical slot machine in 1963, called the "Money Honey.", Bally became a publicly traded company and made several acquisitions, including German company Guenter Wulff-Apparatebau (renamed Bally Wulff) and Midway Manufacturing, an amusement game company from Schiller Park, Illinois.

The 1970s[edit]

In the late 1970s, Bally entered the casino business when New Jersey legalized gambling in Atlantic City; this effort moved forward even though the company was temporarily unable to attain a permanent license for the completed casino. During this period, company head William T. O'Donnell was forced to resign because of alleged links to organized crime. Prior to this, Mr O'Donnell strenuously denied any such links.[2] For example, when questioned at the Moffitt Royal Commission (the NSW Clubs Royal Commission) - an investigation held New South Wales, Australia - on alleged criminal activities with US and Australian criminals, he admitted that Genovese Mafia boss, Jerry Catena (Gerardo Catena), once owned shares in the business, "but I bought him out."[2] He also denied knowing Chicago mobster, Joseph Dan Testa, even though Australian Police described Testa "as a representative of Bally who visited Australia."[2]

The company opened the Park Place Casino & Hotel on December 29, 1979;[3][4] also in the late 1970s, Bally made an entry into the growing market for home computer games. The Bally Professional Arcade, as the machine was called, had advanced features for the time; these included a palette of 256 colors and the ability to play 4-voice music. The machine also shipped with a cartridge that allowed users to do a limited amount of programming on the machine themselves (using the BASIC language), and record their creations on cassette tape; the machine's price point was above the Atari 2600 (its major competitor), and it had a much more limited set of available games. Despite a loyal following, it failed to compete successfully. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Midway became a primary source of income for Bally as it became an early arcade video game maker and obtained the licenses for three of the most popular video games of all time: Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man.[3]

The 1980s[edit]

By the mid-1980s, the company again had a strong balance sheet and began buying other businesses including the Six Flags amusement park chain in 1983, and the Health and Tennis Corporation of America; the health club division, under "Bally Total Fitness", grew during the 1980s and 1990s. The company also purchased several casinos, including the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip (which was subsequently re-branded as Bally's Las Vegas), The MGM Grand Reno (Reno, NV) and the Golden Nugget Atlantic City which was branded Bally's Grand and then later "The Grand-A Bally's Casino Resort"; this expansion quickly took its toll on the company's finances, and Bally was soon forced to sell off several divisions, including Six Flags and Bally-Midway. The pinball division, along with Midway, was acquired by Williams Electronics in 1988.

The 1990s[edit]

In 1990, Bally came under new management as its largest shareholder, Arthur Goldberg, was appointed chairman and began a restructuring process.[5] By 1993, the company had sold off several divisions and used the proceeds to pay down debts, including the slot machine division (which became Bally Gaming International, an independent company); Scientific Games, a maker of lottery equipment; Bally's Reno; and exercise equipment maker Life Fitness;[6] the Aladdin's Castle chain of video arcades was sold that year to Namco, and was renamed as Namco Cybertainment.

The company opened Bally's Saloon & Gambling Hall, a riverboat casino in Mhoon Landing, Mississippi in December 1993,[7][8] it was moved to Robinsonville in 1995 and became part of a joint venture with Lady Luck Gaming.[9]

In 1994, the company changed its name to Bally Entertainment, to reflect its focus on the casino business and the fact that it no longer had any manufacturing operations,[10][11] it also announced that the health club business would be spun off to shareholders, to further narrow Bally's focus on casinos.[11] The spin-off was completed in January 1996, with Bally Total Fitness becoming a separate company.[12][13]

In May 1995, Bally Entertainment announced plans to develop Paris Las Vegas, a new casino hotel next to Bally's Las Vegas; the project would eventually begin construction in 1997 and open in 1999 at an estimated cost of $760 million.

In June 1996, Bally agreed to be acquired by Hilton Hotels Corporation;[14] the sale was completed on December 18, 1996, with Hilton paying $3 billion ($2 billion in stock plus $1 billion in assumed debt).[15] Later, Hilton's casino division, including the former Bally properties, was spun off as Park Place Entertainment (later Caesars Entertainment, Inc.), which was acquired in 2005 by Harrah's Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment Corp.).

The name[edit]

Many casinos and businesses worldwide took on the Bally name and logo in the maze of ownership, division spin-offs and licensing agreements. Midway continued to use the Bally name for its pinball games, until WMS Industries (the parent company of Williams) ceased pinball production in 1999. On March 31, 2005, WMS Industries struck a deal with Australian company The Pinball Factory to give them a license for the intellectual properties and the rights to re-manufacture former Bally/Williams games in the field of mechanical pinball. In addition, The Pinball Factory also has bought the right to manufacture new games using the company's new hardware system under the Bally brand. Alliance Gaming, which had bought Bally Gaming International in 1995, changed its name to Bally Technologies. Bally Total Fitness and distributor Bally France still use the same 'Bally' logo though any formal business relationships, as of June 2007, are coincidental; the name is most well known for being in the song, "Pinball Wizard" in the rock opera Tommy and its soundtrack.

Pinball machines using the Bally brand[edit]

Select Machines Developed by Bally or Bally-Midway[edit]

  • Amigo (1974)
  • Ballyhoo (flipperless) (1932)
  • Bally Baby (slot machine) (1932)
  • Ballyhoo (flippers) (1947)
  • Baby Pac-Man (1982)
  • Blackwater 100 (1988)
  • BMX (1982)
  • Boomerang (1974)
  • Bow and Arrow (1974)
  • Capersville (1967)
  • Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1976)
  • Centaur (1981) & Centaur II (1983)
  • Cybernaut (1985)
  • Dixieland (1968)
  • Dogies (1968)
  • Dungeons & Dragons (1987)
  • Eight Ball (1977)
  • Eight Ball Deluxe (1981)
  • Evel Knievel (1977)
  • Fathom (1981)
  • Flash Gordon (1981)
  • Fireball (1972)
  • Fireball II (1981)
  • Freedom (1976)
  • Four Million B.C. (1971)
  • Frontier (1980)
  • Future Spa (1979)
  • Hi-Lo Ace (1973)
  • Hokus Pokus (1975)
  • KISS (1979)
  • Lady Luck (1986)
  • Lost World (1978)
  • Mata Hari (1977)
  • Monte Carlo (1973)
  • Night Rider" (1977)
  • Nip-It (1972)
  • Nitro Ground Shaker (1978)
  • Odds and Evens (1973)
  • On Beam (1968)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man (1982)
  • Paragon (1979)
  • Playboy (1978)
  • Power Play (1977)
  • Shoot-A-Line (1962)
  • Sky Divers (1964)
  • Strange Science (1986)
  • Strikes and Spares (1978)
  • The Six Million Dollar Man (1978)
  • Vector (1982)
  • Wizard! (1975)
  • Xenon (1980)

Developed by Midway[edit]

Developed by The Pinball Factory[edit]

The Crocodile Hunter Outback Adventure based on the wildlife documentary television series The Crocodile Hunter was in development by Australian pinball manufacturer The Pinball Factory under license from Bally, it was abandoned at the end of 2007 due to the death of the main character of the game, Steve Irwin, and never went into production.[16]

Slot machines[edit]

  • Money Honey (1968)
  • Big Top (1982)
  • Jackpot Riot (1993)
  • Blazing 7s (1993)

Casinos[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bally Records".
  2. ^ a b c "Bally chief denies links with mafia". The Age. 18 September 1973. Retrieved 8 October 2018 – via Google News.
  3. ^ a b Christian Marfels; 2007, Bally: The World's Game Maker, 2nd ed., Bally Technologies Inc., Las Vegas ISBN 978-1-4243-3207-6
  4. ^ "Bally Manufacturing Corp". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved 21 June 2007.
  5. ^ P.J. Bednarski (November 13, 1990). "Top exec quits as Bally revamps". Chicago Sun-Times – via NewsBank.
  6. ^ Debra Dowling (December 19, 1993). "Goldberg whips Bally Gaming into shape". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ – via NewsBank.
  7. ^ Laurel Campbell (December 7, 1993). "Adjacent casinos open in Tunica". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN – via NewsBank.
  8. ^ "Bally's licensed to open in Tunica". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. AP. December 4, 1993 – via NewsBank.
  9. ^ Michelle Hillier (December 22, 1995). "Bally's rolls upriver, reopens casino closer to Memphis crowds". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Little Rock, AR – via NewsBank.
  10. ^ Scott Ritter (March 18, 1994). "Options help CEO's earnings". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ – via NewsBank.
  11. ^ a b David Dishneau (May 18, 1994). "Bally gambling its games will outperform its gyms". Akron Beacon Journal. AP – via NewsBank.
  12. ^ "Bally spin-off final". Chicago Sun-Times. January 10, 1996 – via NewsBank.
  13. ^ Debra Dowling (September 19, 1995). "Bally Entertainment pushing out its network of push-up centers". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ – via NewsBank.
  14. ^ Barry Meier (June 7, 1996). "Hilton Hotels to buy Bally Entertainment for more than $2 billion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  15. ^ Joe Weinert (December 19, 1996). "Hilton and Bally close deal". The Press of Atlantic City – via NewsBank.
  16. ^ "Internet Pinball Machine Database: The Pinball Factory 'The Crocodile Hunter Outback Adventure'". www.ipdb.org.