New Jersey welcomes a new gaming operator as Tropicana Atlantic City officially becomes part of the Eldorado Resorts family.

In a press release on Monday, Gary Carano, chairman and chief executive officer of Eldorado, talked about the acquisition:

“Our acquisition of Tropicana marks a continuation of Eldorado’s successful history of rapid growth through strategic, accretive acquisitions.

“Through this combination, we have significantly expanded the scale of our gaming operations, further diversified our geographic reach into new markets — some of which have already adopted sports wagering legislation — and minimized market-specific risk.”

As far as Atlantic City casinos go, Tropicana helps Eldorado create “a premier, diversified regional gaming platform with a combined annual revenue of more than $2.7 billion.”

More about the Tropicana and Eldorado deal

In April, Carl Icahn agreed to sell Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City, as part of a package deal to Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. (GLPI), a real estate investment firm, and Eldorado.

In mid-September, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission approved the Eldorado Resorts’ ownership application. The approval cleared the way for Eldorado to assume ownership and operational control of Tropicana.

The press release values the sale at $1.85 billion. Tropicana is now a subsidiary of Eldorado and marks Eldorado’s first property in the Garden State.

The sale finds Eldorado now operating in six states:

  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri

Tom Reeg, president and chief financial officer of Eldorado, commented on the news.

“With the acquisition of seven Tropicana properties, Eldorado enters two new gaming jurisdictions and adds financial and geographic diversity to our operating base.”

In-house Tropicana online casino staff cut

Amid all the hoopla of the completed transaction, however, there came word that the in-house Tropicana online casino staff had been fired.

The effect that this change in the Tropicana team will have on the resort’s NJ online gambling future is unknown.

Tropicana online casino is operated by Gamesys. It’s sister site, Virgin Casino, operates via Tropicana’s online gambling license.

What does NJ sports betting have to do with it?

NJ sports betting has nothing to do with it, really. That is unless you count the advantage a gaming company gains when expanding into states that have legalized sports betting or is in the process of legalizing it.

Currently, Tropicana, Caesars, and Hard Rock Atlantic City are the remaining three properties without a sportsbook on the Boardwalk.

That is likely to change. There is every indication that Tropicana will launch a sportsbook in the not-too-distant future.

The most obvious sign is the recent partnership agreement between Tropicana and sportsbook operator William Hill US. William Hill also has a deal with Eldorado Resorts.

Steve Callender, Tropicana’s general manager, spoke of a new facility in the press release:

“A brand new venue is being created to host sports betting in the North Tower Casino, with kiosks located throughout the property. We are excited to share more details about Tropicana Atlantic City’s sports book in the coming weeks.”

Eldorado in it for the long haul

Launching a sportsbook doesn’t automatically guarantee success. In fact, New Jersey is home to eight retail and eight online sportsbooks. Tropicana will make it nine retail spots.

There is some discussion that Tropicana will launch its retail sportsbook in October. By then, the NFL will be well into its season, and the NHL and NBA will be kicking into gear, making for a busy time of year for sports.

Many sports bettors will have settled into a preferred sportsbook, whether a physical location or through a mobile sports betting app.

Reeg spoke about why a sportsbook is vital to the casino:

“That’s going to draw customers that otherwise were never going to see your property and it’s the kind of customers that you want — they sit in your sportsbook and they make bets and they drink with their friends and they wander onto the casino floor and they stay in your hotels and they eat in your restaurants and it costs you nothing to get them into the property.”

By the time Tropicana has a sportsbook, though, it will have to do something very different or significantly better to lure customers away from the competition.

By the sound of things, Reeg is prepared to battle it out:

“We’re coming in eyes wide open that we’re going to have to fight for our position in this market. We expect a fight for market share and we’re prepared to get involved. We’re buying an asset that we hope is standing and competing 50, 100 years from now.”

Kim Yuhl

About

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while traveling around the world. You can learn more about her work and travels at kimyuhl.com.