AC okays Showboat shutdown, Revel gets cash careless, pol proposes racinos

tmiThe state of the casino biz in the state of New Jersey can charitably described as ‘active.’ Monday brought word that the owners of the bankrupt Revel Casino Hotel, which is slated to close its doors in the early morning of Sept. 2, had originally asked state regulators for permission to close Aug. 18. Revel’s owners told the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) that it was losing $1m per week but the DGE insisted the casino’s proposed timeline was too short to ensure an ‘orderly’ shutdown of the property, which cost $2.4b to build before opening in early 2012.

As if Revel’s brief life wasn’t fiscally embarrassing enough, Tuesday brought word that a bag containing $21k of the casino’s cash had been lost after a guard forgot it on top of an armored car. According to an incident report viewed by the Press of Atlantic City, a casino surveillance video shows a GardaWorld armored car driving away from the property with the bag o’ cash still on its roof. Neither GardaWorld nor Revel apparently have any clue at what point the bag may have fallen off the truck and (hopefully) really made some local bum’s day.

Late Monday, the DGE authorized Caesars Entertainment to shut its Showboat casino property as of 4pm on Aug. 31. In June, Caesars announced its intention to close the property – one of four casinos Caesars currently operates in AC – and while it has insisted it’s open to offers from buyers, Caesars is believed to be insisting on deed restrictions that would prevent any future owner from operating a casino on the site. The Trump Plaza is set to close on Sept. 16, which will reduce AC’s complement of casinos to eight from 12 at the start of the year.

That number could drop even further by 2017, according to a report by analysts at Deutsche Bank. The German number crunchers are predicting that Resorts Atlantic City and the Trump Taj Mahal will “join the list of shuttered properties” within two or three more years. That would leave Caesars owning half of AC’s six remaining casino gaming options – Caesars, Harrah’s and Bally’s.

On Tuesday, New Jersey state Senator Joe Pennachhio proposed a constitutional amendment that would authorize the operation of slot machines at the state’s four horseracing tracks. Pennachhio, who feels there’s “an inevitability to racetrack casinos,” envisions having a consortium of AC casino operators running the machines with the profits split between the casinos and the state. If lawmakers approve the proposal, the state’s voters would have to give the plan their blessing via a ballot referendum.

As if that wasn’t enough to handle, Tuesday also saw backers of casino expansion outside AC unveil further details of their plans for the Meadowlands region. The group is proposing a $1.2b project that would include four casino gaming areas encompassing 325 gaming tables and 8k slots, two hotels, a convention center and a monorail to shuffle people from one attraction to the other. Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jim Kirkos said the region had the necessary infrastructure “to build the best casino in the world.” Like the track-slots plan, expanding gaming outside AC would require voter approval.