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Tropicana, Trump avoid bankruptcy filings

Dec 24, 2007 4:29 AM

While the gaming industry was focused on the possibility that the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City might have to file for bankruptcy because its parent Colombia Sussex was denied a license renewal, little attention was being given Donald Trump and his money woes.

But over the weekend, information emerged that saved both Columbia Sussex and Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. (TRMP) from the Chapter 11 filings.

Reports were that debt holders approved a deal for the Tropicana, primarily to avoid harming Tropicana’s casinos in other states including Nevada where the company operates both the Tropicana on the Las Vegas Strip and the Maxim, just off the Strip on Flamingo road.

Specific details about the deal were not made available immediately but further information was expected to be forthcoming this week.

As for Trump, his "white knight" turned out to be a Texas banker who shook up the poker insiders a few years ago by challenging some of the industry’s biggest names to ultra high-stakes Texas Hold’em encounters.

Little was written about Andy Beal’s visits to Las Vegas where he reportedly held his own against such stars as legendary Doyle Brunson, recently deceased Chip Reese, the "Robin Hood of Poker" Barry Greenstein, and poker queen Jennifer Harman. But, although he was said to have left a great deal of cash with his opponents before returning to Texas, Beal gained the admiration of his fellow "pros."

On Friday, Beal announced that his bank, Beal Bank Nevada had agreed to a $500 million first lien mortgage credit facility for Trump Entertainment, saving that company from filing for its third bankruptcy protection.

The effect of the loan was to refinance all current first-lien debt for the Trump gaming company.

"From our initial conversation to the closing of the deal," said Mark Juliano, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, "we have continued to enjoy working with Beal Bank Nevada on this new credit facility." He added that he felt the loan was "an endorsement of our strategic plan, and we are pleased to have Beal Bank Nevada as a key partner."

After confirming the deal, Beal said, "This transaction represents another opportunity to do business with Trump Entertainment and we enjoy working with Donald Trump. We are pleased to be able to provide this financing to Trump Entertainment."

A Barden move

Don Barden, the Detroit entrepreneur who owns several casinos including the Fitzgerald’s Hotel/Casino in downtown Las Vegas, wants to consolidate his two Gary, Ind., Majestic Star casinos into one entity.

That, he believes, will free up one casino license that he would like to move to Steuben County, which borders Michigan and Ohio.

The move would require the Indiana legislature to change existing laws to permit a casino in an area not previously approved.

Barden, in his appeal, noted that Steuben County "is an underserved market for gamblers."

Adding light

Lumiere Place, the $507 million gaming complex that Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK) has opened in downtown St. Louis, Mo., has applied pressure to nearby gaming establishments.

Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA) has already delayed the opening of an expanded property while The Casino Queen, across the river in East St. Louis, Ill., has abandoned its riverboat in favor of a land-based casino. And, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) has added a World Series of Poker room as part of a $17 million renovation at its complex in nearby Maryland Heights.

Lumiere Place is on the Mississippi riverfront near the famous Gateway Arch. It has 75,000 square feet of gaming space with 2,000 slots and 49 table games. In addition to regular restaurants, the property boasts a Burger Bar, established by well-known chef Hubert Keller.

Florida suit

Gambling expansion opponents led by Florida Atty. Gen. Bill McCollum are suing the U.S. Interior Department to prevent the federal government’s approval of the gaming compact negotiated by Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Nation.

The compact would permit the Seminoles to expand their seven Class II casinos into gaming properties that mirror Nevada casinos.

In his suit, McCollum said he believed the Interior Department shouldn’t approve the agreement until the Florida Supreme Court has a chance to determine whether the state legislature also has to approve the compact, an issue that probably won’t be decided for several months.

The jurists won’t hear arguments on the compact until Jan. 30 but the Interior Department has indicated it will move on the compact before year end.

British contract

Scientific Games Corp. (SGMS) is noted for its lottery services and racetrack tote equipment but its British division, The Global Draw Ltd., has become a major supplier of gaming machines in the U.K.

Its most recent contract, with gaming giant William Hill, provides for The Global Draw to supply the 548 betting shops with over 2,250 gaming machines.

The new contract follows the recent change in British gaming law which allows betting shops to have up to a total of four gaming machines.

On another front, Scientific Games has extended its agreement with Loteria Electronica International in the Dominican Republic. The new agreement extends the current contract to 2020.

THE INSIDER: Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) Macau property added 85 gaming tables and 551 slot machines as part of an expansion project.

Moody’s Investors Services, citing a weak financial position caused by a recent refinancing, assigned a "negative" outlook to the debt ratings of Landry’s Restaurants Inc. (LNY).

Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) has scheduled an earnings conference call for Thursday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m. PST.

Also scheduling a conference call was International Game Technology (IGT) which set Thursday, Jan. 17, at 6 a.m. PST as its time.

Rhode Island Atty. Gen. Patrick Lynch has given approval to "virtual blackjack" machines at Twin River Resort.

Two Italian tennis players have been suspended for making bets on tennis matches involving other players.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority says an expansion project at Mohegan Sun Casino will cost $185 million more than originally planned. The project expense is now at $925 million.