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Which Atlantic City casinos are still open? And which may soon reopen?
Posted in: In The News on Monday, March 27, 2017

The last few years in Atlantic City have been littered with casinos closing — including the last two that bore now-President Donald Trump's name. Where the iconic seaside town, once the gambling hub of the east coast, had 12 casinos at the height of its popularity, five shut their doors since 2014. That's largely thanks to increased competition from gambling halls neighboring states. But the city has been trying to fight back, helped along by the decision by Gov. Chris Christie's administration to take over large parts of city hall to stave off bankruptcy. One casino has reopened as a hotel. Another is slated to become a water park. And another was recently bought by an internationally branded company. Here is a look at the seven casinos that are still open and what's happening with the other five: STILL OPEN Borgata The marina property, which opened in 2003, was the city's highest-performing casino last year, according to figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. It brought in $769 million in revenue — up 3.8 percent from the year before. Harrah's The marina property, which opened in 1980, was the city's second-highest-performing casino last year. It brought in $358 million in revenue — down 4.3 percent from the year before. Tropicana The boardwalk property, which opened in 1981, was the city's third-highest-performing casino last year. It brought in $341 million in revenue — up 9 percent from the year before. Caesars The boardwalk property, which opened in 1979, was the city's fourth-highest-performing casino last year. It brought in $302 million in revenue — down 2.7 percent from the year before. Golden Nugget The marina property, which opened in 1985 at Trump's Castle and later became Trump Marina before being sold and rebranded as the Golden Nugget, was the city's fifth-highest-grossing casino last year. It made $251 million — up 9 percent from the year before. Bally's The boardwalk property, which opened in 1979, was the city's sixth-highest-performing casino last year. It brought in $210 million in revenue — up 0.1 percent from the year before. Resorts The boardwalk property, which opened in 1978 as the first casino in Atlantic City, was the city's seven-highest-performing casino last year. It brought in $173 million in revenue — up 6.7 percent from the year before. Only the Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in October, brought in less revenue. REOPENED AS SOMETHING ELSE Showboat The boardwalk casino closed in 2014 after 27 years. Stockton University bought the property that year and planned to turn it into a campus, but the deal fell through. It eventually reopened last July as a hotel. CLOSED BUT REOPENING Trump Taj Mahal The boardwalk casino was the last property in the city to still bear Trump's name. The real estate tycoon, now America's 45th president, owned up to four casinos in the city between 1984 to 2009. The Taj struck a deal with Trump to keep his moniker on the signs. But new owner Carl Icahn shuttered the casino amid a workers strike in October of last year. He brokered an agreement last month to sell it to a group of investors led by Hard Rock International last month. The team said it will invest $300 million to purchase, revamp, and reopen the casino as the Hard Rock Atlantic City, possibly as soon as next year. Officials and experts are hailing it as a key moment for the city's financial recovery, with Christie saying it shows businesses are beginning to reinvent there. Revel The glitzy, mirror-surfaced boardwalk casino opened in 2012 to much fanfare but closed a little more than two years later. But developer Glenn Straub bought the property for $82 million in bankruptcy court and aimed to reopen it under a new name: TEN. The opening is still in limbo, as Straub has fought officials over red tape, regulations, and rules. CLOSED BUT REOPENING AS SOMETHING ELSE The Atlantic Club The boardwalk casino — once the Golden Nugget and then the Hilton — closed in 2014. But a development group from nearby Ventnor agreed last month to buy the property and plans to redevelop it as a water park, hotel, and family entertainment complex. CLOSED Trump Plaza Trump's first casino opened in 1984, but the businessman was involved in name only after he left his casino company in 2009. Like he did with the Taj, Icahn acquired the gambling hall in bankruptcy proceedings. But while he was able to sell the Taj, Icahn has had trouble unloading the former Plaza — one of the first properties you see when driving into the city from the Atlantic City Expressway. The New York Post recently reported that it's because of a lease a $1 million-a-year ground lease that runs through 2078, which Trump signed decades ago.

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Our view: Optimism grows as A.C. starts emerging from downturn
Posted in: In The News on Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How fitting the arrival of spring should find the greater Atlantic City community in good spirits. The signs of the city’s rebirth are pushing up like daffodils, reminders that with a little help people get through tough periods to flourish again. The mood in the region seems to be nearing a tipping point, with reasons for optimism starting to outweigh years of despair and resignation regarding Atlantic City. Time to shift from mere hope to realistic enthusiasm and support for the vigorous growth of early shoots of city redevelopment. The city headed for bottom with the closing of four casinos in a year and the effective bankruptcy of city government. To provide stability, state and local officials arranged for a subsidized call center to bring jobs to the city and for Stockton University to move forward on an Atlantic City campus. Then the outlook dimmed further when the Trump Taj Mahal, struggling to regain its footing after reorganizing, closed as a result of a labor dispute. What now looks like the start of a turnaround began, as it probably often does, with a handful of risk-taking entrepreneurs acting on the potential that many saw. Among them were Bart Blatstein, the Philadelphia redeveloper who acquired the former Pier at Caesars and Showboat casino hotel, and John Longacre and Mark Callazzo, who funded and built businesses in a city that often seemed headed in the wrong direction. Then the foundation was set last year by state leaders unshakably resolved, regardless of misguided opposition, to take over city finances and restore their soundness. In just over three months, the state effort started paying off — saving the indebted city about $93 million by renegotiating the tax refund it owed to Borgata Casino Hotel. S&P upgraded the city’s debt rating for the first time in years. Two weeks later, the Taj joined the revival story when it was purchased by a partnership of Hard Rock International and two solid investors. That’s worth 3,000 jobs, 2,000 hotel rooms for the growing convention/meetings sector, and a business boost to the northeast end of the Boardwalk. Gov. Chris Christie credited the takeover effort: “There is no doubt that this purchase was encouraged by our efforts to stabilize the finances of the city government.” After two more weeks, the closed Atlantic Club Casino Hotel was bought by a Ventnor-based group with plans to develop an indoor water park, hotel and restaurants. Stockton’s false-start purchase of the Showboat dampened early enthusiasm for its city campus, but the project now is shaping up as the hoped-for transformer of the city’s southern end, enriching its economy, culture and even character. The university district already will include retail space and an urgent-care center, and more is being planned — probably extending west to Bader Field. University officials told The Press editorial board city residents who can’t easily travel to Galloway Township are looking forward to the new educational opportunities. They’ll join the region’s degree-bearing core of 11,000 Stockton graduates, including many chief executives of businesses and organizations, according to President Harvey Kesselman. That influence will grow with a thriving A.C. campus. These positive developments should encourage elected officials at all levels to build on the momentum by supporting efforts to balance the city budget and make the dreams of entrepreneurs a reality. Success breeds success, and with a little more it will become self-sustaining.

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Here's all the good news Atlantic City has received in the past month
Posted in: In The News on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The past three years haven't been kind to Atlantic City. Five casinos closed, the city found itself in a $100 million budget hole with nearly $500 million in debt and was on its way to become the first city in the state to go bankrupt since the Great Depression. Then the state came in and took over. That's either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view. But in the past month the city has been deluged with development and job news, something it desperately needed. Here's what's happened in the city that points to a bright future for America's Playground.

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New Jersey tourism grew in 2016, locally and statewide, report shows
Posted in: In The News on Thursday, March 09, 2017

Atlantic County may have an unemployment rate about one-third higher than the national average and a foreclosure rate more than three times the national rate, but tourism data show improvement in the region. For the first time in five years, tourism sales in Atlantic County grew.

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Casino revenues up 15 percent over last January
Posted in: In The News on Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The resort’s seven remaining brick-and-mortar casinos saw a 15 percent increase in revenues over January 2016, according to state gaming number released Tuesday afternoon. Casino gaming revenue at the seven properties totaled $204.7 million, according to the state. "A year ago I said Winter Storm Jonas, which paralyzed much of the eastern seaboard, was one reason why casino revenues fell in January of 2016," said Matthew B. Levinson, chairman and CEO of the state Casino Control Commission. "The same storm that effectively wiped out a full weekend last year, is one of the big reasons why revenues for the current casinos jumped by 15.2 percent last month."

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Good Start to 2017 for Atlantic City Casinos
Posted in: In The News on Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Atlantic City's casinos are off to a good start in 2017, with their January gambling revenue up 7.7 percent from a year ago. Figures released Tuesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show the seven casinos took $204.6 million from gamblers in January. They were helped once again by a nice boost from internet gambling, which brought in $18.8 million for the month. That's an increase of 28.6 percent from a year ago. All seven casinos posted revenue increases, led by Caesars, which was up more than 41 percent, to $28.2 million.

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