In this week’s installment of Inside Gaming, a deal to sell the closed Atlantic Club falls through, New Jersey lawmakers continue to consider legislation to allow casinos outside of Atlantic City (with a certain Vegas mogul’s name being introduced into the mix), and the latest monthly report reflects an increase in gaming revenue in Nevada.
Atlantic Club Purchase Falls Through
The Atlantic Club was the first of four boardwalk casinos in Atlantic City to shut down during 2014, which means speculation about its future has now lasted nearly two years. Until this week it appeared as though current owners TJM Properties were on the verge of selling the property to the Pennsylvania-based Endeavor Property Group, but as the Associated Press reported earlier this week that deal has fallen through.
After opening in 1980, Caesars Entertainment closed the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel on January 13, 2014. Just over a year prior, talk had surfaced of the Rational Group, then the parent company of PokerStars, showing an interest in purchasing the property from Caesars, with a purchase agreement having in fact been made public in January 2013. However a few months later that deal fell through, then in May 2014 TJM bought the casino from Caesars for $13.5 million.
TJM then engaged in negotiations with Endeavor, but as TJM president Terence J. McCarthy explained Monday, the prospective buyer “was not able to generate the additional deposit funds needed” despite having “laid a foundation that has generated interest in government funding that may enhance the value of the property.”
The Endeavor plan had been to convert the Atlantic Club into a water park, adding restaurants, space for conferences and special events, and other businesses. (An artist’s rendering of the Endeavor’s vision for the Atlantic Club appears above.) A deed restriction imposed by Caesars at the time of its sale to TJM prevents the property from being used as a casino by future owners, something the AP notes “may limit its marketability.”
A similar deed restriction was placed by Caesars on the Showboat Atlantic City which closed in August 2014 before being sold to Stockton University. Meanwhile a bill to lift such restrictions that would affect both the Showboat and Atlantic Club properties is currently being advanced through the New Jersey legislature, with the State Senate having already passed it and the Assembly left to consider it.
However, there is a possibility hope is not entirely lost with regard to the TJM-Endeavor deal, as the Press of Atlantic City reports. As they say, the story is developing.
For more on this week’s news regarding the Atlantic Club’s failed sale, see the Daily Journal.
Assembly Speaker Says Wynn Interested in Returning to NJ
Continuing with industry news from the Garden State, NJ.com reports this week that the leader of the NJ State Assembly, Speaker Vincent Prieto, has said that casino mogul Steve Wynn may be one of those interested in owning a casino in the northern part of the state.
The statement came amid continued debate among the state’s legislators over whether or not to allow the construction of casinos outside of Atlantic City. As we reported here last month, bills have already been passed by committees in both of the state’s houses. Prieto favors such legislation.
“I have talked to many individuals that have expressed interest in coming into New Jersey,” explained Prieto, adding that “Mr. Wynn is one of those individuals that has shown interest in different sites in the area.” Wynn has not commented on Prieto’s statement.
Wynn did previously open the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City in 1980, then sold the property in 1987 amid acrimonious circumstances. At the time he “vowed never to return to Atlantic City,” explains NJ.com, “calling the local government ‘corrupt and stupid.’”
While Prieto favors the building of casinos outside Atlantic City, others strongly oppose such legislation, with some arguing it would further decimate AC casinos despite the fact that a percentage of revenues from the new casinos would go to Atlantic City over the next 15 years (according to one of the proposed bills).
Monday marks the final day of the current legislative session, meaning if the houses can come to an agreement and pass a version of the bill, it could find its way onto the ballot in November.
Read more about the possibility of a Wynn return to NJ as well as the prospects for the legislation to allow casinos to be built outside of AC at NJ.com.
Nevada gaming up in November
Finally, November was a good month for Nevada gaming with the state’s casinos enjoying a 7.76% increase in total gaming win year-over-year for the month, as reflected in the most recent revenue report from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Casinos in the state earned a little over $944 million for the month, up from the just over $876 million from November 2014. Slots were up more than 13% and roulette more than 22%, while baccarat continued a trend by declining more than 14%.
Meanwhile sports betting increased as well, a little more than 32% for the month. In fact, the $557 million wagered in November represented a single-month record for sports betting, no doubt largely thanks to the NFL entering the second half of its season.
Clark County in particular did well in November, increasing 8.4% over a year ago. Meanwhile the Strip was up 5.4% for the month.
For more on Nevada’s strong November, visit VEGAS INC.
Image: SOSH Architects.