Putting The “No” In Casino: Gaming Future Not Likely For Shuttered AC Properties

Posted By Steve Ruddock on June 24, 2015 - Last Updated on February 12, 2021

With four shuttered casino properties dotting the Atlantic City landscape, the city must now ask itself the following question: What do we do with these empty properties?

One Pennsylvania developer, Endeavor Property Group, is seeking to answer that question, as the group envisions replacing one of these shuttered casinos, the Atlantic Club Casino, with an entertainment complex complete with an indoor water park and beach bar according to the Press of Atlantic City.

Endeavor also has plans to utilize the Atlantic Club’s current design by opening a hotel or adding condominiums to the property. Endeavor attorney Jason Sieminski told the Press of AC, “I think Atlantic City has a very strong future. Endeavor is excited to be part of it.”

There is still a long way to go before any plans are finalized, but Endeavor representatives have met with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and the CRDA and City Council have approved plans to rezone the Atlantic Club to allow the type of project Endeavor is considering.

The Atlantic Club bankruptcy and sales

The Atlantic Club (originally the Golden Nugget) is one of the older casino properties in Atlantic City, built by casino magnate Steve Wynn and opened in 1980.

Under Wynn the casino thrived, but fell on hard times in subsequent years, and was sold multiple times.

The Atlantic Club landed in bankruptcy court in late 2013, and was eventually purchased for scrap by Tropicana and Caesars. The property officially closed its doors on January 13, 2014, the first of four Atlantic City casinos to close up shop last year.

The property itself went to Caesars (Tropicana made off with any usable gaming equipment), and Caesars later sold the property to Florida-based TJM Properties for $13.5 million. The sale included a deed restriction preventing the Atlantic Club from being reopened as a casino.

Early reports had TJM looking at turning the Atlantic Club (and an adjacently owned lot) into condominiums, but these reports never bore any fruit and the property has remained dormant for nearly 18 months.

If TJM does sell the property to Endeavor, it would be the third of the four casinos that closed in 2014 to change hands.

It would also be the second casino whose connection to gaming would be severed.

Showboat’s future tied to higher education

In September of 2014, Caesars shuttered one of its four Atlantic City properties, Showboat Casino.

Showboat was one of the more surprising closures during the “Great Casino Purge of 2014,” considering it was a slightly profitable casino…sometimes, and ever so slightly.

Like the Atlantic Club, Caesars wanted to ensure Showboat wouldn’t be reopened as a casino and seemed to have found a buyer willing to accommodate that request. But it ran into a snag, as a strange agreement dating back to 1988 gives Trump Taj Mahal the option to nix any deal involving Showboat if the property no longer offered gambling.

For whatever reason, Trump Taj Mahal – in the throes of bankruptcy itself – decided to exercise this option after Caesars sold Showboat to Stockton University.

This has led to a whole new can of worms being opened, as Glenn Straub, the man who purchased the Revel for pennies on the dollar, made an agreement to buy Showboat from Stockton and lease it back to them, while Straub uses Showboat to bypass Revel’s power plant snafu by tying into the city’s grid through Showboat.

If you’re confused, here’s more on that part of the story.

Revel: Part casino part everything under the sun

Speaking of Straub and Revel, his vision for Revel Casino is a bit all over the map.

From BMX tracks to casinos to Towers of Geniuses, Straub doesn’t seem to have mapped out the future of the $2.4 billion hotel casino he purchased for around $80 million.

What about Trump Plaza?

The only casino property whose future is a completely blank slate is Trump Plaza.

Since closing in September of 2014, there has been little public speculation when it comes to the casino’s future use.

One thing is for certain, however. With its central location on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the building cannot remain vacant if Atlantic City hopes to reinvent itself.

Final thoughts

While each property’s future is still open to question, it’s a pretty safe bet that at least three of the four shuttered casinos won’t be accepting wagers anytime soon.

Image Aneese / Shutterstock.com

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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