This week in Inside Gaming we return to the Boardwalk in Atlantic City where a second attempt to sell the closed Revel Atlantic City casino has failed and the famed Trump Taj Mahal poker room is about to deal its last hands.
Second Attempt at Revel Bankruptcy Sale Scuttled
At 47 stories, the Revel Atlantic City is the tallest building in Atlantic City. Its fall within less than two-and-a-half-years after opening was perhaps the most dramatic the famed Boardwalk has seen as well, with the latest news on the Revel concerning yet another failed sale of the closed casino.
Having only opened in April 2012, the Revel was plagued with financial difficulties from the start, losing money steadily before twice having to declare bankruptcy. Last summer in bankruptcy court it was made clear that unless the Revel could find a buyer it would be forced to close, and with no bids proving suitable the casino’s doors were indeed closed on September 2, 2014. That made the Revel the third of four Atlantic City casinos on the Boardwalk to shut down last year along with the Atlantic Club, the Showboat, and the Trump Plaza.
Built at a total cost of $2.4 billion, a bankruptcy auction in October resulted in Brookfield U.S. Holdings LLC of Toronto submitting a bid of $110 million to purchase the Revel; however, that deal could not be finalized and Brookfield ultimately walked away in November. A second bidder, Glenn Straub of Florida, emerged and in early January the sale of the Revel to Straub’s Polo North Country Club, Inc. for $95.4 million was approved by a federal bankruptcy judge. Unlike Brookfield who had planned to reopen the Revel as a casino, Straub envisioned transforming the structure into a “megaresort that would feature a huge water park, high-speed ferry service from Manhattan and some gambling,” as reported in the Press of Atlantic City.
However this second attempt to sell the Revel appears to have gone the way of the first as the Revel on Tuesday went to court to terminate the deal with Straub. According to the Philly Inquirer, the Revel asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gloria M. Burns to terminate the deal, with representatives of the casino explaining at a hearing on Wednesday their desire not to sell to Straub. “We have zero confidence in Polo North’s ability to close,” said Revel bankruptcy attorney John K. Cunningham, adding that they “are ready to move on to another buyer.”
Monday had represented a contractual deadline for Polo North to finalize the deal, with the failure to do so prompting the Revel’s attorneys to request the deal be terminated and Polo North losing a $10 million deposit in the process. Judge Burns is expected to issue the order to terminate the sale next week, at which point the Revel can again attempt seek a new buyer.
Polo North had requested an extension to February 28 after objecting to one of many troubles plaguing the Revel, namely, the question of energy supplier ACR Energy Partners continuing to keep the power on. ACR had threatened to shut down power at the Revel over unpaid bills. Without power, the Revel’s fire-protection system would not be operational, leading Straub’s attorney to remark that “Polo North should not be compelled to purchase a building that [could] conceivably be burned to the ground,” NorthJersey.com reports.
For more on current status of the Revel as well as a discussion of various problems associated with both the physical structure and the financial structuring of the property, go to the Philly Inquirer.
Trump Taj Mahal Poker Room to Close
Staying on the Boardwalk, it appeared last year that the Trump Taj Mahal was destined to join the list of Atlantic City casinos closing in 2014. Potential closing dates were announced in both November and December, though the casino managed to remain open. Trump Entertainment also filed for bankruptcy last September (following the closure of Trump Plaza that month), and had to go to court void a contract with its employees’ union regarding benefits in November. A $20 million loan from investor (and Trump creditor) Carl Icahn offered late last year and approved in late January has also helped keep the doors open.
Meanwhile, as Fortune reports this week, this week Trump Entertainment also agreed to a $10 million civil penalty assessed by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network after the “Trump Taj Mahal admitted to have willfully violated reporting and record-keeping requirements under the federal Bank Secrecy Act from 2010 to 2012.”
Amid the general uncertainty regarding the Trump Taj Mahal’s future, poker players are noting the imminent closure of its poker room this Sunday, February 15. A popular poker destination especially during the 1990s, the poker room had been the second-largest in Atlantic City (behind the Borgata) and was memorably featured in both the 1998 film Rounders and in Jesse May’s novel of the same year, Shut Up and Deal.
Allen Kessler, one of many who frequented the Taj poker room during its heyday, tweeted about the closure last night, his message accompanied by the above photo:
Sad day in poker. I played here for several years during the 90s.Follow @AllenKessler
UPDATE (2/13/15, 2:30 p.m. PST): The Press of Atlantic City today reports that Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Robert Griffin has announced plans to reopen the Trump Taj Mahal poker room in early July. Read more here.
Read others’ thoughts regarding the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal poker room in the thread over at Two Plus Two.
Photo of Revel Hotel Casino via Wikimedia Commons.