Parent company of Casino Aztar back in the news

The parent company of Casino Aztar in Evansville is back in the news as speculation mounts about the future of two major properties owned by the financially troubled hotel and casino operator Columbia Sussex.

Wednesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal carries a report on the questions surrounding the future of the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, purchased by Columbia Sussex in late 2006 as part of its USD 1.9 billion acquisition of Aztar Corp., which included the Evansville casino and other casinos around the country.

Columbia Sussex owner William J. Yung III had initially promised to invest USD 3.5 billion to restore and expand the Las Vegas property, but the Journal reports those plans are on hold while Yung grapples with a more immediate challenge: The forced sale of his Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.

In December, gaming regulators in New Jersey refused to renew Yung’s operating license for the Atlantic City property, citing massive layoffs, mismanagement, and failure to follow state gaming regulations. That decision has triggered the forced sale of the Atlantic City casino, and Yung has announced that other properties, including Casino Aztar in Evansville, are up for sale to pay off his creditors.

Meanwhile, an investor group led by New York developer Joseph Palladino has announced its bid of USD 950 million to buy the Atlantic City property. The bid was submitted on Jan. 15 to a court-appointed trustee. It tops an USD 850 million bid submitted by Colony Capital Acquisitions L.L.C., of Los Angeles in early June. In announcing the bid, Palladino said he would restore many of the 900 jobs cut by Columbia Sussex when it took over the Atlantic City property and sharply criticized Yung’s management decisions, calling them „the worst way to run a business.“