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Trustee wants to scrap bids on AC Trop

Jun 10, 2008 7:03 PM

Gaming Insider by Phil Hevener | The handful of bids for the Atlantic City Tropicana will probably be thrown out and the state-appointed conservator, Gary Stein, given approval to restart the bidding process for the troubled resort.

This is the likely result of Stein’s "compelling case" as it was laid out last week for members of the Casino Control Commission, who put Stein in place last December to get the hotel and casino sold within a few months.

Why should the process begin again? Because nothing went as architects of the forced sale imagined it would.

The lack of bids was a far cry from the apparent interest shown after Bear Stearns began inviting prospective bidders to stop by and take a look at things.

About 37 groups or individuals had at one time been deemed worthy enough as possible buyers to be asked to sign the confidentiality agreements that earned them a good look at the Trop’s performance.

But as storm clouds gathered in the major financial markets and the associated legal issues grew increasingly complex, one prospective bidder after another said thanks, but no thanks.

There’s been renewed interest during recent weeks and Stein thinks this could produce a better price.

$4 a gallon okay in AC

Watching the gas prices go up on the sign at the neighborhood Arco is like watching the ever-changing totals on the Jerry Lewis Telethon readerboard. Whatever the price of gas was yesterday, it’s higher today and will probably be even higher tomorrow.

The continuing run-up in gas prices has some gaming industry followers thinking once again about the merits of geographic diversity and a possible push in that direction.

Long trips by planes and automobiles do not have the appeal they did in the old days, except for international travelers who are benefiting from a weak dollar.

In the meantime, high gas prices might work to the benefit of Atlantic City resorts, which are much closer to the bulk of their customers than those in Las Vegas.

The high prices will certainly benefit smaller casinos that might lose some of their customers to larger so-called destination resorts during the summer.

"Maybe a drive to Atlantic City will have enhanced appeal, better than a more expensive than ever trip to Florida or a trip to Europe, or maybe even Las Vegas," is the way one source with a good view of the big picture put it.

Smaller casino companies with their regional facilities have the attention of larger companies that could use some geographic diversity. If a player does not want to travel all the way to Las Vegas then give him a chance to scratch his habit a lot closer to home.

Kind of like what happened after Sept. 11, when it was very apparent that the companies with regional gambling halls – those that could be reached with a relatively short drive – recovered much faster than Las Vegas, a destination relying heavily on air travel.

The cost of getting just about anywhere has been increasing daily and, while some of the deep-pocketed travelers who head to Steve Wynn’s place or one of the upscale MGM properties might shrug it off, the pressures are grinding on others.

Yes, let’s hear it for diversity.

‘World’ Series lives up to its billing

Two things are apparent after the first week or so of action at the World Series of Poker.

One, the return of genuine pros to dominance, and two, the obvious presence of non-U.S. players, probably thanks in large part to the importance of Internet poker as a driver of interest in the game outside the United States.

About the obvious success of pros, veteran poker writer Nolan Dalla said seven of the first eight events were won by people who are genuine veterans.

"I’m not talking about some 22- or 23-year-old kid who calls himself a veteran," Dalla said.

This fact of life contrasts with recent years when the lists of event winners were top heavy with names that were mostly unfamiliar to people outside their immediate families.

As for the obvious early presence of players from other countries, "This is good," said Dalla, who serves as the World Series’ chief publicist, "because these people in the past have not usually arrived in large numbers until later in the World Series.

"But what we have now is a situation where if 72 people finish in the money, probably 30 of them are from other countries.