Over the course of 2014, four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos were shuttered:
- The Atlantic Club in January
- Revel Casino in September
- Showboat in September
- Trump Plaza in September
A year later not a single one of these properties have reopened, but that doesn’t mean the properties have just been lying dormant. There have been several sales (and resales), and a number of potential plans have been floated.
Here is the latest on the four properties:
The Atlantic Club
The Atlantic Club was the first of the city’s casinos to close its doors, in what would later become “The Great Casino Purge of 2014.” In late 2013, the Atlantic Club found itself in bankruptcy, and following a liquidation auction where anything of value not bolted to the ground was available to the highest bidder, the casino closed in early 2014. A combined bid by Tropicana and Caesars saw them divvy up the Atlantic Club’s assets with Caesars taking over control of the property.
Caesars later sold the property to TJM Properties Inc. in June of 2014.
The Atlantic Club is unlikely to ever reopen as a casino. Not only is it almost certainly an unprofitable venture considering its age, location, and condition, but Caesars almost certainly deed restricted the property when it sold it to TJM.
The latest plans have the property and an attached parcel of land being sold to Endeavor Property Group out of Pennsylvania. Endeavor’s plan is to turn the property into a resort hotel (minus the gambling) complete with indoor water parks and arcades.
Of the four shuttered casinos, Trump Plaza appears to be the one that will remain an empty eyesore on the Atlantic City Boardwalk the longest. According to a report this summer by NJ.com, Trump Entertainment Resorts plans to deed restrict (ensuring the property is not reopened as a casino) and keep the property closed for as long as 10 years. According to the article, this will be done as a tax-saving measure.
Of course, if someone were to come along and make Trump Entertainment Resorts an offer it can’t refuse, the property would likely be sold in the blink of an eye, although the deed restriction preventing it from reopening as a casino would almost certainly be part of the deal.
The story of Revel Casino only dates back about five years, but in that short period of time, the property has become infamous in gaming circles.
The Revel was an absolute train wreck from the get-go, and the Revel’s ability to find calamity continued post-bankruptcy and closure, as the property couldn’t find a buyer thanks to its mountain of debt commitments.
First it was Glenn Straub who tossed out a lowball offer of around $95 million for the property that nearly survived. But when the Revel went to auction, a second suitor emerged, Brookfield Asset Management, and they outbid Straub with a $110 million offer. In the end, Brookfield backed out, as it was unable to come to an agreement with the power plant that Revel owed tens of millions of dollars to — Revel was something of an indentured servant to the power plant. Brookfield simply ripped up the deal and walked away.
That’s when Straub swooped back in, and after drastically lowering his original lowball offer, he bought the property for just $82 million — quite a bargain considering Revel cost $2.4 billion to build and is less than five years old.
What Straub is going to do with Revel is anyone’s guess. He’s having the same problems with the power plant Brookfield encountered, and has rattled off any number of ideas for the property.
In December of 2014, Caesars sold the shuttered Showboat Casino to Stockton College, which had designs on turning the property into an Atlantic City campus. However, nothing is that simple in Atlantic City. Before the ink was dry on the deal, Trump Taj Mahal (facing its own bankruptcy restructuring) invoked a previous agreement that allowed it to nix any deal that would turn Showboat into a non-gaming property.
The decision by Trump Taj Mahal made little sense at the time, and it makes even less sense now that it appears Showboat might be reopened as a casino, and once again compete with Trump Taj Mahal.
With its plans disrupted by the Trump Taj Mahal, Stockton agreed to sell the property to Glenn Straub, the real estate developer who purchased Revel. But more legal hang-ups caused that deal to fall apart too. Eventually Stockton did sell Showboat to developer Bart Blatstein.
What Blatstein will do with the property is unclear, considering the expected enforcement of the decades-old agreement with Trump Taj Mahal, and the fact that Caesars sold the property to Stockton College with a deed restriction preventing anyone from reopening the property as a casino.
Blatstein is already heavily invested in Atlantic City’s hoped-for revival with The Playground, a massive shopping and entertainment redevelopment project outside of Caesars Casino. Perhaps his current relationship with Caesars will be enough to get the deed restriction removed.