May 31, 2001 8:57 PM

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission on Wednesday approved the sale of the bankrupt Claridge Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to Park Place Entertainment.

The $65 million sale is scheduled to close Friday, when the Claridge emerges from federal bankruptcy protection, where it has languished for nearly two years.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to satisfy Claridge debts, supplemented by $16 million to $17 million from Park Place.

The deal, accomplished after Park Place beat back a rival bid by financier Carl Icahn, adds a fourth casino to Park Place's Atlantic City holdings. The fourth casino will further bolster its dominance of the city's large, primarily day-trip gambling market. With the acquisition, Park Place will own 35 percent of the city's gaming space and 32 percent of its hotel rooms and will generate nearly 35 percent of the city's gaming revenues.

Park Place is already the largest casino company in the world, with 29 gambling resorts, counting the Claridge.

Park Place has set aside $25 million to remodel and upgrade the Claridge's hotel, restaurants and slot floor, according to The Press of Atlantic City, and is considering expanding the casino, the city's smallest, and adding a parking garage on land Park Place already owns.