Eldorado Takes Control, Then Cuts Online Casino Staff At Tropicana Atlantic City

One day after taking control of Tropicana Atlantic City, Eldorado Resorts fires the online casino staff, leaving NJ online gambling plans uncertain.

Just one day after officially taking control of Tropicana in Atlantic City, Eldorado Resorts fired the online casino staff.

In reporting at Online Poker Report, sources in the know, but not employees of the casino, “believe it’s a vote of no interest and/or confidence in online gambling by the Trop’s new owner.”

Tropicana’s NJ online casino still open for business

It’s hard to imagine “no interest” in a gaming vertical that brings in more than $3 million per month. That’s how much the Tropicana online casino contributes to Tropicana’s overall bottom line.

Gamesys powers the online casino and likely has the ability to keep things running while Eldorado sorts out its long-term plans.

Of course, such a bold move so soon after its acquisition of the property may affect its customers’ confidence. Rest assured, the NJ gambling site remains operational, at least for now.

As Eldorado assumes operational control, there are likely to be more changes at Tropicana AC. While the recent news came as a surprise, there is an expectation that Eldorado will make some changes to integrate the Atlantic City property into the Eldorado family.

What is Eldorado really after?

Upon the completion of the sale earlier this week, Gary Carano, chairman and chief executive officer of Eldorado, talked about gaming operations and NJ sports betting.

“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.”

Before purchasing the Tropicana properties, Eldorado bought Lady Luck Nemacolin in Pennsylvania.

The NJ online gaming and sports betting markets are in full swing, and Pennsylvania is close to launching online gaming and mobile sports betting, too.

It was thought the latest purchases were a strategic move by the company to gain access to two sought-after online casino markets. That might not be the case though.

The latest news paired with the fact that Lady Luck has not applied for an online gaming license in PA puts that strategy in question.

We do know through recent statements, including the one above, that Eldorado has an interest in gaming and sports betting. It is the future NJ online gambling plans that have people wondering.

Will Tropicana open a sportsbook?

All signs are pointing to a new sportsbook opening at Tropicana soon.

Eldorado and Tropicana both have deals in place with William Hill. William Hill operates several other sportsbooks in New Jersey, including its own mobile sports betting app.

Steve Callender, Tropicana’s general manager, shared plans for a new sports betting venue earlier in September:

“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.”

Additionally, Tom Reeg, president and chief financial officer of Eldorado, talked about the company’s willingness and need to fight for market share.

“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.”

But while there has been talk of a retail sportsbook location, there has been no mention of an online or mobile sports betting option.

While most companies are rushing to take part in the booming NJ online sports betting market, Eldorado seems content to sit on the sidelines — at least for now.

Of course, nothing is a certainty when change is afoot. That is especially true after the recent firings.

Eldorado Prepared To Fight For A Piece Of The Pie As Tropicana AC’s New Owner

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

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.”

Eldorado Takes Over Tropicana Atlantic City; Expect A Sportsbook In October

Eldorado Resorts received an interim OK to own and operate Tropicana Atlantic City with plans to open the Tropicana sportsbook by October.

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission granted interim authority for Eldorado Resorts to own and operate Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City.

The Nevada-based company is assuming control of the Atlantic City property as part of the $1.85 billion sale of Tropicana Entertainment. Carl Icahn announced the deal in April after selling the Trump Taj Mahal to Hard Rock International months earlier.

Thomas Reeg, president of Eldorado Resorts, realizes the company has its work cut out for it considering the competitiveness of the market.

In a press release announcing the decision, Reeg said:

“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.”

A Tropicana sportsbook is on the radar

The company describes the Tropicana as being in “good physical condition.” That leaves officials to focus on building on the familiar brand in a saturated casino market.

A new sportsbook might just give Tropicana the boost it needs. The release of the latest NJ sports betting revenue figures are encouraging. It certainly provides an incentive for casinos to get in on the action.

Officials from the company are targeting October for the opening of the retail sportsbook. Both the company and the property recently signed deals with popular sportsbook operator, William Hill US.

The partnership will be critical to launching a sportsbook in such a short time.

“We’re not new to competition,” said Gary Carano, chairman and CEO of Eldorado. “Reno is as much if not more competitive. We will be able to compete favorably; we have in every market we’ve been in.”

Eldorado on the aggressive growth plan

Eldorado has been on a buying spree of late. The purchase of Tropicana Atlantic City was part of a package deal that included six other casinos in five states.

Prior to the purchase of Tropicana Entertainment, the company shelled out $1.75 billion for Isle of Capri Casinos. That particular acquisition added 12 casinos to the company’s portfolio.

Also, the company announced it plans to purchase Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Illinois, for $328 million in cash at about the same time it announced the Tropicana deal.

By all accounts, all this growth is a good thing, and it shows in the company’s stock price which doubled in the last year.

There might be some challenges ahead, however. Eldorado now has a lot of moving parts to manage.

In addition to integrating the Isle of Capri and Tropicana casinos into its portfolio, it plans to launch sports betting in New Jersey as mentioned above.

Eldorado properties also up for sale

The company has also shown an interest in selling some properties. It is currently selling its Pennsylvania property, Presque Isle Downs Casino, to Churchill Downs Inc.

Two other casinos have been on the auction block but have failed to change hands.

A buyer for the Isle of Capri Lake Charles in Louisiana failed to obtain a gaming license and had to walk away from the deal. And Churchill Downs Inc. walked away from buying a second property, Lady Luck Casino Vicksburg from Eldorado.

Eldorado playing with the big boys

Even with all those balls in the air, the acquisitions allow Eldorado to be competitive with gaming industry giants. As sports betting and NJ online gambling continue to expand across the country, Eldorado is positioning itself to take advantage of its growing presence.

For now, though, all eyes will be on the company as they take over the operations at Tropicana. According to the company, their timing couldn’t be better.

“We’re very excited to be here and operate in Atlantic City,” Carano said. “Atlantic City is on a roll, and we’re on the upside of that roll.”

Tropicana Reveals Plans To Join NJ Sports Betting Market With William Hill

William Hill and Tropicana announced an NJ sports betting partnership that will most likely lead to a land-based sportsbook at the Atlantic City casino.

It was only a matter of time.

Tropicana Atlantic City announced this past week that it inked an official partnership deal with British sports betting giant William Hill, a move which puts them one step closer to opening a land-based sportsbook.

Steve Callender, Tropicana’s general manager, said in a press release he was excited to find such a sports betting partner:

“Tropicana Atlantic City is proud to partner with William Hill Race & Sports Book – America’s sports betting leader. We pride ourselves on creating unique and exciting experiences for our guests at Tropicana Atlantic City, and our sports betting offering will meet those expectations.”

He then teased the future Tropicana sportsbook and its offerings:

“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.”

Perhaps the most important point in the press release is that the Trop is building a land-based sportsbook. At the time of publishing, Tropicana and Hard Rock AC are two of the last casinos without a land-based sportsbook in Atlantic City.

By all indications, the Trop will most likely launch its sportsbook before Hard Rock, leaving the already-iconic property lagging behind in the NJ sports betting market.

William Hill extends influence in NJ sports betting

William Hill’s partnership with Tropicana is actually a partnership with Eldorado Resorts, the entertainment group which runs 21 properties across the country.

Some of its properties are in states in which sports betting is up and running. Nevada and West Virginia are two examples. The company also has two properties in Pennsylvania: Presque Isle and Lady Luck Nemacolin.

As far as New Jersey goes, Eldorado’s forthcoming sports betting products via Tropicana are William Hill’s third foray into the post-PASPA landscape of NJ sports betting.

The company runs the sportsbook at Monmouth Park and Ocean Resort Casino, virtually cornering the market on NJ sports betting until more properties open up land-based casinos.

William Hill was the top revenue earner in the state after June revenue numbers from the Division of Gaming Enforcement showed Monmouth Park bringing in more than $2 million amid only one competitor, Borgata.

Monmouth Park’s sports betting revenue dropped in July. But William Hill’s overall numbers approached $2 million between Monmouth and Ocean Resort.

Here is how the gross revenue played out among the five casinos that offered land-based sports betting in July:

  • Meadowlands: $1.357 million
  • Ocean Resort: $1.036 million
  • Monmouth: $856,280
  • Borgata: $562,830
  • Bally’s: $17,738

William Hill and NJ online sports betting

In addition to the land-based sportsbooks at Monmouth Park and Ocean Resort, William Hill launched an online sports betting platform as well as Apple and Android apps.

At the time of publishing, its site offered the following sports on which you could place a bet:

  • Auto
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Fighting
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Other (cricket and rugby futures)
  • Soccer
  • Tennis

William Hill’s app, however, is one of seven now in the Garden State. DraftKings Sportsbook led the charge, but FanDuel Sportsbook, SugarHouse Sportsbook, playMGM, Caesars, and 888 Sport are all live.

A Tropicana sportsbook would make it nine retail sportsbooks in New Jersey.

Changes Afoot: Tropicana Atlantic City Casino Sold As Part Of $1.85 Billion Deal

In another change for Atlantic City’s casinos, Carl Icahn has sold Tropicana Atlantic City hotel and casino as part of a larger deal that gives Tropicana Entertainment Inc. new owners.

It is beginning to look a lot like musical chairs on The Boardwalk in Atlantic City.

Last year, billionaire investor Carl Icahn, sold the former Trump Taj Mahal to Hard Rock International and a group of investors. On June 28, the property will reopen as Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City with a brand-new look and feel.

Earlier this year, Glenn Straub, a Florida real estate developer sold the former Revel Casino Hotel to AC Ocean Walk. After $175 million worth of renovations, it is scheduled to reopen this summer as Ocean Resort Casino.

Then this week, Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City, as part of a package deal, was sold to Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. (GLPI) and Eldorado Resorts Inc. Icahn was once again the one selling.

The casino is thriving and will maintain current operations heading into what is sure to be a record-setting summer.

The details of the Tropicana properties sale

Icahn’s firm Icahn Enterprises agreed to sell Tropicana Entertainment Inc. and it’s seven properties to GLPI for $1.21 billion. Eldorado Resorts Inc. will lease the assets from GLPI for $640 million and manage the operations of the properties.

GLPI primarily invests in casinos as a real estate investment rather than for its gaming potential. It currently has 38 casino properties in its gaming portfolio. It only operates two of the properties and leases the remaining to various companies including:

  • Penn National Gaming, Inc.
  • Casino Queen
  • Pinnacle Entertainment

Eldorado will soon be on that list. Eldorado is a Nevada-based gaming company and operates 20 properties in 10 states. The sale will expand Eldorado’s reach into two new states: New Jersey and Indiana.

The $1.85 billion deal includes seven casinos in six different states, including:

  • Tropicana Casino and Resort, Atlantic City (New Jersey)
  • Tropicana Laughlin Hotel and Casino (Nevada)
  • MontBleu Casino Resort & Spa in South Lake Tahoe (Nevada)
  • Tropicana Evansville (Indiana)
  • Belle of Baton Rouge Casino & Hotel (Louisiana)
  • Trop Casino Greenville (Mississippi)
  • Lumière Place (Missouri)

There is an eighth Tropicana property that is not part of the deal. Disposal of Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino separately is a condition of the sale closing.

“The acquisition of seven Tropicana Entertainment properties will allow Eldorado to enter two new gaming jurisdictions and deliver additional financial and geographic diversity to our operating base,” said Eldorado Resorts Chairman and CEO Gary Carano, as reported in the Press of Atlantic City.

The deal will position Eldorado and GLPI to enter the New Jersey live and online gaming market. Both companies have expanded their geographical reach and are looking forward to becoming a player in the NJ online gaming industry.

From bankruptcy to profitability

In 2008, Icahn Enterprises acquired a majority interest in Tropicana Entertainment Inc. while it was in the midst of bankruptcy.

Icahn’s firm specializes in creating success stories. It buys undervalued properties and enhances operations until they can or are in a position to realize a profit for his firm.

Two years after purchasing its interest in Tropicana, Icahn backed a $200 million plan that allowed Tropicana to emerge from bankruptcy in 2010. They haven’t looked back since.

“I am incredibly proud of what the entire Tropicana team has been able to accomplish over the past eight years, taking Tropicana from bankruptcy to one of the industry’s success stories,” Tropicana President and CEO Tony Rodio said in a separate statement to the Press.

“Hopefully, they keep Tropicana (operating) as the booming property it has become,” City Council President Marty Small Sr. said. Small goes on to complement Rodio and his commitment to turning Tropicana into a profitable property.

“He’s a fine executive. He’s always given back to the community and has really turned Tropicana around,” Small said.

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High expectations for a lucrative summer in Atlantic City

Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino have been busy getting ready for their summer openings.

In addition to the two grand openings, Resorts Atlantic City will be celebrating 40 years in the city with a summer-long celebration that is sure to be a not-to-be-missed party.

The various celebrations, an impressive entertainment lineup, and what amounts to a brand-new face has generated a level of optimism the city is embracing. Expect visitors and locals alike to be spending plenty of summer nights on The Boardwalk.

As a side note, Icahn still owns the still-shuttered Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. The property closed in 2014 and has been sitting vacant ever since. After selling two Atlantic City properties in the last year and with the revitalization of the city underway, it won’t be surprising at all if another casino changes hands sometime in the future.

Trop Near The Top: Tropicana NJ Casino’s Revival Capped By Strong Revenue In 2017

Tropicana NJ’s $390M revenue in 2017 was good enough for second place in AC, completing a startling turnaround from when the NJ casino was at death’s door.

It’s funny how history repeats itself.

Thirty years ago, hotel group Ramada purchases the run-down Ambassador Hotel and called it The Phoenix. After a court battle, The Phoenix rose from the proverbial ashes and became the Tropicana. Between then and now, the Tropicana in New Jersey has overcome a near-death experience to become the second-best revenue earner in Atlantic City.

In 2009, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission stripped the casino’s owners of their license in the wake of massive employee layoffs that resulted in a filthy casino — insects infested the place, grime abounded, and all seemed lost.

New ownership and big investments turned the casino around, yanking it from the city’s revenue cellar and putting it near the top in fewer than 10 years.

“It’s an incredible difference and transformation,” Tropicana Entertainment President Tony Rodio told the Associated Press this past week. “Employee morale was at an all-time low. Customers were not happy with the facility and how it was being managed and were leaving in droves, and revenues were declining on a monthly basis. Fast-forward 10 years to where we are today, I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve been able to accomplish over that time.”

A look at the numbers: Trop clears second by $27 million

The 2017 revenue numbers from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement were the capstone of the Trop’s comeback.

The NJDGE’s report showed that Tropicana NJ’s 2017 revenue of $390 million, while far behind Borgata’s $800-million year, was $27 million ahead of third-place Harrah’s.

The surge to the second spot was due to the casino’s significant 14.6 percent increase over 2016. Harrah’s saw a 1.6 percent growth, and fourth-place casino Caesars experienced a 14.4 percent gain over 2016.

Renovations catalyst for increased revenue at Tropicana NJ

Why so much growth in 2017? The answer to that question lies with a pair of renovation projects completed in 2015 and 2016. The first renovation cost $50 million, and the second one’s price tag was $40 million.

With $90 million on the line, Tropicana NJ was certainly hoping to surge ahead of Harrah’s and the Golden Nugget to snag the second-best revenue performance in 2017.

Steve Callendar, the property’s general manager, uttered these prophetic words in a 2016 press release announcing the completion of the second round of casino and hotel updates:

“Tropicana continues to evolve as a result of our constant investment into the property. Each round of improvements proves to be more rewarding than the last, as our guests are consistently pleased and revenues are rising.”

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2018 will put gains to the test

While the 2017 revenue numbers were good news for Tropicana NJ’s owners, 2018 could be an entirely different beast for the thriving property.

The Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino are scheduled to open this summer and, when they do, there will no doubt be fierce competition for gamblers streaming into the city.

The University of Las Vegas Nevada’s Dr. David Schwartz, head of the school’s Center for Gambling Research, said it’s going to be hard to predict exactly what will happen with revenues.

The city’s seven casinos have found a solid equilibrium. So the presence of two new casinos (and the possibility of a third new casino) could throw that into chaos, leaving some with a much smaller slice of the revenue pie.