The Atlantic Club has long had a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window, but a bankruptcy judge is moving the casino’s potential sale along in expedited fashion.
Prospective buyers who may be interested in owning the struggling casino must submit their bids by Nov. 18, Judge Gloria Burns ruled last Friday. The owners of the Atlantic Club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just two days earlier and indicated within their pleadings that they cannot continue operating in the long term.
Judge Burns’ order means that a new buyer will likely be revealed at auction next month, perhaps in time for the Christmas holidays. Whether the Atlantic Club comes wrapped as a gift for the new owners as exciting as a sparkling set of new golf clubs or more like an ugly necktie that gets lost in the back of the closet remains to be seen.
There is the matter of over $5 million owed to creditors and lawyers. There is another perhaps $30 million or so pension plan debt to casino employees. And there is a loss of some $7 million in 2013 despite the casino reporting a gambling revenue increase of roughly 11%, the Press of Atlantic City reported.
However, on the bright side, there is also the potential for lucrative earnings in a newly-regulated online gambling regime that may see New Jersey become the hub of Internet gambling throughout the U.S. Revenue estimates for New Jersey’s online scheme have come in as high as hundreds of millions of dollars. Just a fraction of that may be enough to turn the fortunes of the Atlantic Club around.
Another positive that will likely woo potential buyers is a low price tag. PokerStars put $15 million on the table almost a year ago to get the keys to the casinos. The Atlantic Club snatched up $11 million of that and then voided the deal due to unfulfillment of contractual obligations by PokerStars. Whether that low price will still be enough to get the deed to the casino property will be determined at December’s auction.
The new owners will unfortunately miss out on the online gambling launch date slated for Nov. 26. But there is no shame in arriving a bit late to the party, as indications are that the online gambling party in the U.S. will grow in numbers considerably as more states pass the required legislation.
While the Atlantic Club’s sale has been placed on the fast track by Judge Burns, another New Jersey casino may also soon be found in the real estate listings. The fate of the Revel Casino Hotel was in the hands of a bankruptcy judge earlier this year. A new ownership group took over in May, but Bloomberg is reporting that the new owners are considering financial options that include the restructuring of loans or a possible sale.
The Atlantic Club and Revel Casino appear to not be preparing for New Jersey’s Nov. 21 online gambling soft launch or the real deal five days later. That real-money rollout is fast approaching with only two weeks remaining before state regulators flip on the virtual switch and permit all adults within New Jersey borders to play poker and casino games online.