I wonder if Larry Woolf may be congratulating himself for not getting a casino deal he vigorously pursued not so many months ago?
As former Caesars World CEO Henry Gluck once reminded me, “Your best deals are sometimes the ones you do not get.”
Woolf is the Las Vegas-based man in charge at the Navegante Group, which has earned a solid reputation over the last few years as a source of management expertise for dozens of casino owners who needed help.
Navegante is expected to take over operation of the troubled resort formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton once it emerges from bankruptcy in its new identity as the LVH. New owner Goldman Sachs will quickly begin efforts to find an owner with a long term interest in the Las Vegas casino business. It’s a process that will probably take months, maybe years.
But as his LVH deal evolved, Woolf was looking for other deals because his goal is to see Navegante continue growing. With this in mind, Woolf reportedly had his eye on the Atlantic City Resorts property following the death of co-owner and chief of operations Dennis Gomes.
Woolf was not available for comment about what happened, but he is understood to have believed he had a deal locked up when Gomes’ partner abruptly changed his mind and went in another direction, signing a management agreement with Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun tribe. Woolf may have been considering the opportunities for further growth in Atlantic City as the casino industry there has continued to struggle.
But the impact of Superstorm Sandy on AC quickly made an already difficult job that much more so.
Atlantic City casinos were relatively unscathed. There was little physical damage but it is obvious millions of people in the Atlantic City market area may not be thinking about a visit to anyone’s casino for a number of months.
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].