Jun 4, 2001 8:08 PM

Is Donald Trump's reign as king of Atlantic City over?

That's the question analysts and observers are asking in the wake of Park Place Entertainment's purchase of yet another competitor, the Claridge, raising its casino holdings to four and its citywide market share to upwards of 35 percent.

Trump once controlled 30 percent of the city's casino revenues and 29 percent of its cash flow. Those numbers dropped to 26.6 percent and 23.6 percent last year.

One Wall Street analyst, John Kempf of Goldman Sachs, recently told The Associated Press that Trump is facing a "significant decline in market share" unless he reinvests in his aging casino hotels to keep up with expansions by Park Place, the Tropicana and Harrah's and the scheduled opening of a new megaresort, The Borgata, in two years.

Does he have the pockets for it? One problem, as analysts see it, is a debt level of $1.8 billion, the highest among major gaming companies, according to analyst Jason Ader of Bear Stearns & Co.

"His balance sheet limits him, no question about it," Jason Ader said in the same AP report.

That said, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. is still a large, thriving concern, with $1.4 billion in revenues last year, the fifth-highest in the industry. The company predicts cash flow this year approaching $300 million.

Trump, meanwhile, told AP he plans to do some major spending and will add hotel towers to his three Atlantic City resorts ”” the Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza and Trump Marina ”” "in the not-too-distant future."