Christie Announces State Takeover of Atlantic City

Photo | Dan McQuade

Photo | Dan McQuade

Chris Christie took a controversial step today that has some Atlantic City politicians fuming. At his third summit on the city’s future, Christie announced the appointment of Kevin Lavin and Kevyn Orr as emergency managers in Atlantic City. Lavin, the emergency manager, and Orr, his special counsel, will have broad powers in A.C.

Lavin, who most recently worked at FTI Consulting, has years of experience in corporate restructuring. Kevyn Orr was Detroit’s emergency manager during its bankruptcy proceedings.

Detroit emerged from bankruptcy in December, shedding $7 billion of its $18 billion in debt. There are not any immediate plans to push Atlantic City into bankruptcy, though it is assumed they are on the table.

“I don’t think the residents will be very happy,” Chris Filiciello, a spokesman for Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian, told the Wall Street Journal. “They elected the mayor to represent them. He has been fulfilling his duties to the best of his ability and we’d like to know what an emergency manager would do that the mayor hasn’t done already.”

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Revel Sold to Backup Bidder, Who Plans to Appeal Ruling

revel-closed

Photo | Dan McQuade

Update, 1:45 p.m.: A judge awarded Revel to Glenn Straub‘s company. Straub did not get a discount he’d requested, and has been ordered to pay the entire $95.4 million he bid for the casino.

Straub’s lawyer said he will appeal for a stay of the sale.

Earlier: A federal judge is set to hear arguments today regarding the sale of Revel to Glenn Straub, the man who last year floated plans to buy the casino and turn it into a “university for geniuses.”

Revel, which cost $2.4 billion to construct, has been closed since 6 a.m. September 2nd. But there’s been a lot of news in the past few weeks! Late last year, ACR Energy Partners missed a bond payment and asked a judge if it could cut power to Revel. ACR was created to power the now-shuttered casino, Revel is its only customer.

It’s not clear if Revel can get power from another source; shutting down power to the building could cause it to be ravaged by fungus. “You’ve got a very high humidity environment,” Drexel construction management professor Douglas Carne told the Press of Atlantic City. “That will be almost impossible to control without air handlers operating.” Tenants that operated businesses at the Revel remain locked out and are fearful of ACR cutting power.

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Union: Icahn Backs Out of Deal to Save Trump Taj Mahal

Last night, it seemed the Trump Taj Mahal had been saved with a last-minute deal. Carl Icahn, the lender for most of the Taj’s debt, agreed to a deal with the union to keep the casino running. Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Robert Griffin signed off on the deal as well.

Well, not anymore. Local 54 Unite HERE said today Carl Icahn has backed out of the deal. The union released a statement:

We thought that we had come to an agreement with all parties that would resolve all of the issues with the Taj Mahal. We signed it, and the Trump CEO signed as well. At noon today, we were told that Carl Icahn had gone back on his commitment and would not enter into the agreement. This is what we have been dealing with for some time now at this property. We are disappointed that Mr. Icahn’s whims are going to add to the feelings of uncertainty and instability that the workers have had to live with and have to endure during this holiday season and beyond.

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UPDATE: Trump Taj Owner Asks Icahn to Stay Open

Update, 2:40 p.m.: The Trump Taj Mahal’s CEO is asking primary lender Carl Icahn to keep the casino open until a court fight with the union ends.

Icahn has not yet responded to the plea. If he agrees, the casino would remain open well into 2015. Local 54 Unite HERE is currently appealing a court decision that canceled the workers’ pensions and healthcare plans.

Earlier: The union for workers at the Trump Taj Mahal ignored a deadline from the casino to drop its appeal of a court order canceling health insurance and a pension plan for workers.

Both sides remained mum on the deal. The casino is slated to close Saturday morning at 6 a.m., the fifth casino to close in Atlantic City in 2014.

“Every day fewer and fewer people patronize the Taj, and we lose more and more of what little money we have left,” Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Bob Griffin wrote on December 11th. “We just cannot wait any longer.” Nearly 3,000 people work at the Taj.

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Bill Would Provide Tax Break for A.C. Casinos

Photo courtesy  Wikimedia Commons.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

We started the news day telling you it appeared the Taj Mahal Casino was about the kick the bucket. We head into the late afternoon, however, with news of a possible reprieve.

New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. James Whelan have proposed a plan to let Atlantic City’s surviving casinos pay $150 million to the state in lieu of taxes for two years; it would redirect a tax now used to support new developments to help Atlantic City pay off its debt.

AP reports:
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The Second Philly Casino License Goes to Live!

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

The PA Gaming Control Board has just publicly voted to award the second Philadelphia casino license to Stadium Casino LLC, operating as Live! This is just the initial phase of the licensing. The decision is subject to appeal, and therefore the Board will not comment on the decision. The meeting has just ended, but before it did, PA Gaming Control Board Chairman Bill Ryan said that the denials of the other three petitioners had nothing to do with lack of character or integrity in the other contenders. Rather, the decision was based on the following factors: the protection of the public; public interest and the social effects of gambling; the integrity and control of the slots business; tax revenues and tourism in Pennsylvania.

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Ugly Allegations Enter Philly Casino License Picture

fox 29 still

A still from the Fox29 report.

Someone affiliated with one of the four casino bidders (not Live!) sent me the below video this morning, shortly after I saw the same story on philadelinquency.com. The allegation is this: The expected announcement that Live! will win the bid for Philly’s second casino license today may be, in part, due to a romantic relationship between a lead attorney for the Live! project and a lawyer who worked, until earlier this year, for the PA Gaming Board. PDQ’s Chris Sawyer calls it a “sexual conspiracy theory”; Fox29 takes it more seriously, and speaks with the interim head of the Committee of Seventy about it:

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Will South Philly Beat Out Center City for a Casino?

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Tomorrow the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board holds a special meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at which it publicly votes on who gets Philadelphia’s second casino license. There are four bidders — two in Center City (The Provence at 400 North Broad Street and Market8 at 8th and Market) and two in South Philly (Casino Revolution at 3333 South Front Street and Live! Hotel and Casino at 900 Packer Ave.) — waiting for word.

Because the whole thing has taken so damn long, we asked Doug Harbach, PGCB spokesperson, what would happen if the vote is deadlocked tomorrow. You know, just in case. Ain’t gonna happen.

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Suburban Officials Blast Possibility of New Philadelphia Casino

Officials from Delaware County gathered today to blast the idea of a second casino in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will vote on Tuesday to decide which bidder, if any, will get a license for a second casino in Philadelphia.

“Common sense just shows you that the gaming industry has changed,” Delaware County Councilman John McBlain said today in Ridley. “The combination of a bad, national economic climate, online gaming taking effect in many places and the saturation of the casino market has changed the game.”

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