Posts Tagged ‘Atlantic’

Hard Rock Atlantic City to Use GiG Platform for Online Gambling Offering

 Hard Rock Atlantic City to Use GiG Platform for Online Gambling Offering

On Monday, Malta-based Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) announced that it has entered into a five-yar agreement with Hard Rock International to be the company’s online gambling provider for its Hard Rock Atlantic City property, set to open this summer. The two companies had signed a Letter of Intent in late October, though at the time, GiG did not make it public that its partner was, in fact, Hard Rock International.

Gaming Innovation Group was founded in 2008 and has offices in six cities: Malta, Marbella, Gibraltar, Oslo, Kristiansand, and Copenhagen. It owns seven business-to-consumer online gambling and sports betting brands, focusing on European markets. That is, until now. The venture with Hard Rock will be GiG’s first foray into the young United States regulated online gambling market.

GiG explained what it will provide in Monday’s press release:

The agreement will see GiG furnish Hard Rock with a state of the art digital consumer portal, as well as the back-end platform to manage their operations. GiG has communicated ambitions to expand its platform services, focusing on larger clients by utilizing platform scalability. The agreement is a breakthrough for GiG’s platform services as it marks the first agreement with a major global brand and land based casino chain. GiG will also supply Hard Rock with its new front-end casino service, GiG Magic.

“We are excited to be part of Hard Rock’s inspiring and innovative plans,” said Robin Reed, CEO of GiG. “This agreement confirms the attractiveness of the GiG platform and the ability to support major operators in the industry. By adding a New Jersey license, we will move into our third regulated market, positioning GiG towards an important and growing iGaming market.”

Added SPV of Online Gaming at Hard Rock, Kresimir Spajic, “Hard Rock has an ambitious plan to become a global leader in the international online gaming space. We are confident that, together with GiG, we can disrupt the market, through product innovation and unique user experience.”

Hard Rock Atlantic City is the former Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in October 2016. Things were a mess leading up to the closure (aren’t they usually?) as Carl Icahn, the largest debtholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts took control of the casino when the company came out of bankruptcy in February 2016. In the months that followed, he refused to invest $ 100 million into the casino that he promised, holding out for tax breaks from Atlantic City and New Jersey. He got concessions from the Unite Here Local 54 union, causing its members to lose pension and health benefits, but when the union later tried to negotiate to get their benefits back, Icahn wouldn’t budge. The workers went on strike and the Taj eventually closed, Icahn blaming the union.

Hard Rock International acquired the Trump Taj Mahal in late March 2017. It has plowed $ 500 million into the property, converting it to its Hard Rock brand and plans to re-open this summer. The online gambling products are expected to also launch this year, though GiG did not specify if this would happen when the casino opens its doors.

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Long Dormant Revel Casino in Atlantic City Sold

 Long Dormant Revel Casino in Atlantic City Sold

Atlantic City’s Revel Casino, which has been closed since September 2014, has been sold. Bruce Deifik, the founder of Integrated Properties in Denver, confirmed Monday that he purchased the ill-conceived property for $ 200 million through his business AC OCEAN WALK from Florida developer Glenn Straub.

The Revel was designed to be a luxury casino property to rival the Borgata. It cost a staggering $ 2.4 billion to build and opened in April 2012. It never made a profit and closed about two and a half years later, the third of four Atlantic City casinos to shutter its doors that year.

The casino was a failure from the start, as financial problems caused construction to be halted more than once. It bled money from the moment it opened, couldn’t pay its property taxes, couldn’t pay contractors, couldn’t repay loans, and went into bankruptcy twice.

In August 2014, Revel announced that if it did not receive any acceptable bids to purchase the casino, it would close by September 1st. It closed one day after that.

On October 1st, 2014, Brookfield US Holdings won a bankruptcy auction for the Revel, bidding $ 110 million. This angered Glenn Straub, who felt some funny business was going on when the auction was delayed from the previous week even though all parties were present. The Press of Atlantic City reported that Revel executives held closed-door meetings to discuss offers, which raised the suspicion of Straub.

Straub’s company, Polo North Country club, had bid $ 95.4 million, a bid which was used as a backup in case the sale to Brookfield fell through. As it turned out, the sale did fall through and in January 2015, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale to Straub. In February, though, Revel cancelled the Straub deal and then in April engaged in talks once again with Straub, eventually agreed to sell him the casino for only $ 82 million.

In June 2016, Straub said he was going to reopen the resort with just a small casino and lots of entertainment facilities like a water park, an e-sports lounge, and an equestrian facility. In September of that year, the property was renamed TEN, but in the end, it never reopened.

Bruce Deifik, though, has said he will re-open the property this summer with a new name, Ocean Resort Casino.

“We are incredibly excited that we were able to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire this tremendous property at a time when Atlantic City is seeing great economic strides,” Deifik said in a statement. “Now the city has a number of exciting new projects with our property and the Hard Rock, as well as Stockton University’s new campus and the expansion of the medical center.”

The Hard Rock that Deifik mentioned is the former Trump Taj Mahal, which closed October 10th, 2016. In March 2017, the Seminole Tribe of Florida purchased the former east coast poker haven and announced it would rebranded the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

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Atlantic City Mayor Urges Carl Icahn to Sell Trump Taj Mahal

 Atlantic City Mayor Urges Carl Icahn to Sell Trump Taj Mahal

The Trump Taj Mahal has been closed for three months, a black hole on the uptown end of the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Its owner, Carl Icahn, shows little serious desire to do anything to revive it.

Last Wednesday, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian spoke with reporters after his State of Atlantic City speech at the Golden Nugget last Wednesday, saying he would like Icahn to sell the former poker mecca of the east coast to someone who well get it up and running again.

“It’s the worst of the worst, things like that,” Guardian said, referring to the Taj’s closing. “Taj Mahal was the crown jewel before the Borgata in Atlantic City. It’s a great facility, but it didn’t get that $ 100 million face lift that the other properties got in Atlantic City and so you knew it when you walked in there. But it’s a great property; I really hope that Mr. Icahn, if he doesn’t want to build, sells it…and lets someone else come in and do it.”

“He doesn’t have any faith in the city, I get it, or the state…but don’t let us lose that building and leave it vacant on the Boardwalk. We need the thousands of jobs, we need the taxes, and we need the type of activity that it draws to bring people to Atlantic City.”

Guardian added that he felt confident that eventually something will be figured out and Icahn will find a financially beneficial solution for himself and someone else will be able to get the action going again at the Taj Mahal.

Carl Icahn and his company Icahn Enterprises took control of the Taj Mahal after the casino’s former owner, Trump Entertainment Resorts, emerged from bankruptcy proceedings in February 2016. He had pledged the $ 100 million that Guardian mentioned, but wanted concessions from the Unite Here Local 54 union and tax breaks from the city and state in return. He got the concessions – union members lost their pension and healthcare benefits – but he didn’t get the tax breaks, so the $ 100 million was never invested.

During the first half of 2016, the union tried to negotiate with Icahn Enterprises to get their pension and healthcare back, but the company wouldn’t budge. Thus, about 1,000 Taj Mahal staff members went on strike in early July.  A few weeks later, Tropicana Entertainment (the company that operates the Taj) President and CEO Tony Rodio announced that the casino would be closing, blaming it on a lack of profitability brought on by the strike.

Since October 10th, Icahn has been losing hundreds of thousands dollars a month letting it sit vacant, as utilities still cost money, as do things like property taxes. In late December, the New York Post reported that Icahn was in talks with other casino operators to possibly sell the casino, but last week, Icahn told the Associated Press that the Taj Mahal was not for sale.

He did make one exception: he said he would happily sell for $ 300 million to Mayor Guardian, which is the amount of money he says he has lost since owning the casino.

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Carl Icahn in Talks to Sell Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal

 Carl Icahn in Talks to Sell Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal

According to the New York Post, Carl Icahn, whose Icahn Enterprises owns the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, is in discussions with other casino operators to sell the property. The former center of east coast poker closed on October 10th.

Aside from making money, one of the reasons Icahn is looking to make a deal may be because he might not be allowed to re-open the casino for five years. Less than two weeks after the Taj Mahal closed, the New Jersey Senate passed S2575 by a 29 to 6 vote, an amendment which would add a reason why someone could be disqualified from holding a casino license. In this case, it would disqualify a licensee who closed a casino. Specifically, the amendment reads:

Notwithstanding the provisions of any law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, the substantial closure of a casino hotel facility by the licensee occurring on or after January 1, 2016 shall disqualify the licensee from continuing to hold that license and shall constitute sufficient cause for revocation of that license, except that such substantial closure shall not impact any other pre-existing casino license held by the licensee. The division shall determine what constitutes a substantial closure of a casino hotel facility pursuant to this section.

Last Monday, the New Jersey Assembly passed the bill by a 60 to 17 vote; it now goes to Governor Chris Christie for his signature, though it is not known if he will sign it. The above disqualification would last five years.

Considering the retroactive date in the amendment, this bill specifically targets Carl Icahn. The reason for this is the way Icahn took control of the Taj and the way he handled things after doing so. Trump Entertainment Resorts – the former owner of the Taj – went into bankruptcy proceedings in September 2014. Icahn, the company’s largest debt holder, took control of the Taj Mahal when the company emerged from bankruptcy in February of this year. During the bankruptcy proceedings, the Unite Here Local 54 union lost its pension and healthcare benefits.

This year, after Icahn took over, the Unite Here Local 54 tried to negotiate with his company and the operator of the Taj Mahal, Tropicana Entertainment, to get its benefits back, but Icahn was not agreeable to what the union was looking for. In July, the about 1,000 union workers went on strike and, citing the inability of the Taj Mahal profit because of the strike, Tropicana Entertinament President and CEO Tony Rodio announced a few weeks later that the Taj Mahal would close.

Some believed that after the closure, Icahn would try to re-open the casino using non-union labor so that he would not have to pay union benefits. Thus the reason for the bill.

Senate president Steve Sweeney, the sponsor of the bill, told the AP in June, “Casino owners shouldn’t be manipulating the system and exploiting bankruptcy laws as a way to break unions and take away the rights and benefits of the workers. Atlantic City’s gaming industry is obviously experiencing the difficult challenges of competition from other states, but the answer is not to engage in practices that punish the workers.”

If the bill becomes law, Icahn would be unable to re-open without re-negotiating with the union, which could very well be why he is looking to sell.

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Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal Closes

 Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal Closes

The Trump Taj Mahal Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City closed yesterday after 26 years. Once the poker hub of the east coast, the Taj is no longer owned by the groping Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but rather by billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises and is operated by Tropicana Entertainment.

The Taj Mahal came to be in Icahn’s hands after Trump Entertainment Resorts exited bankruptcy in February 2016 (I know it’s surprising that a Donald Trump venture had problems, but humor me here); Icahn was its largest debt holder and agreed to take it on. He had said he was also going to spend $ 100 million to improve the property, but he never did.

In late 2014, when Trump Entertainment Resorts began bankruptcy proceedings, employees lost their health care and pension benefits. This July, the Unite Here Local 54, which includes over 1,000 staffers of the Taj, including cooks, bellmen, and housekeepers, went on strike to protest their loss of benefits. A month later, Tropicana Entertainment announced that the casino would close, blaming the strike for the Taj’s lack of profitability.

Bob McDevitt, President of Unite Here Local 54, said of Icahn at the time:

How petty. I would never have thought Carl Icahn was so one-dimensional. The great deal-maker would rather burn the Trump Taj Mahal down just so he can control the ashes. For a few million bucks he could have had labor peace and a content workforce, but instead he’d rather slam the door shut on these long-term workers just to punish them and attempt to break their strike. There was no element of trying to reach an agreement here on Icahn’s part; it was always “my way or the highway” from the beginning with Icahn. It is the epitome of the playground bully, who picks up his ball and announces he is going home because nobody else would do it his way. It is truly a shame that such an unscrupulous person has control of billions of dollars.

The Trump Taj Mahal’s famous poker room really became known, according to The Press of Atlantic City, when it became host of the U.S. Poker Championship in 1996. It was the first $ 10,000 tourney on the east coast and for a number of years was arguably the highlight live poker tournament in the United States outside of the World Series of Poker.

Many poker fans and, really, non-poker fans will remember the Taj in its significant cameo role in the seminal 1998 poker film Rounders.

“It was the place that you could go play without violating any laws and where, if you were someone who wanted to get better at poker and study the best players, you were there,” Rounders writer Brian Koppelman told The Press. “If you were someone who wanted to hustle people, you could go there and find tourists to hustle.”

And that is exactly what was portrayed in the film. In one scene, the New York grinders, including Matt Damon and Edward Norton’s characters, took advantage of unsuspecting tourists. In another, Damon’s character, Mike McDermott, recalls a time he sat down at a table with Johnny Chan for much more money than he could afford and bluffed the two-time WSOP Main Event champ out of a pot.

When the glitzy Borgata opened in 2003, the Taj Mahal’s poker room could not keep up. The Borgata soon became the place to play poker in Atlantic City and casinos in other states kept out-of-state players home. The Taj Mahal poker room closed for “renovations” in February 2015 and didn’t re-open for more than a year, just in time for the strike and the casino’s closure.

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