An investment group that combines Asian and American financing with one of Europe’s leading Internet gambling companies is close to buying an Atlantic City casino, the executive overseeing the negotiations says.
The group, however, refuses to divulge any information about the casino other than to say it is on the Boardwalk. Nine casinos are located on the Boardwalk. Three more casinos are located in the city’s Marina District.
London-based Internet company 2UP Gaming and MidOil USA say they have lined up $330 million in funding to buy and refurbish the casino. Asian financial backers are also involved in the project, said Vince Crandon, managing director of New York-based MidOil, an investment firm partnered with 2UP Gaming.
Crandon disclosed in July 2UP’s plans to buy an Atlantic City casino. At that time, he said his group was in talks with multiple casinos about a sale. Now, he says, 2UP is zeroing in on a final agreement. The Asian backers are traveling to the United States to complete the deal, he said.
“We’ve agreed on the price and other conditions. I just need to get a final agreement done,” Crandon told The Press of Atlantic City.
Crandon would not divulge the purchase price. However, he said the group has $330 million “in the bank” to buy the property, rebrand it and make extensive renovations.
In July, Crandon said he hoped to wrap up negotiations by the end of August and make an announcement by Labor Day. He now says he is unsure of the timing of the announcement because of the intricacies of negotiating the final terms and securing visas for the Asian investors, whom he declined to name.
“It will be as soon as a definitive agreement is made,” he said.
Previously, Crandon said 2UP and MidOil would move ahead with plans to build a new casino if they failed to buy an existing one by Labor Day. He now says the group is so close to a final agreement that it has shelved the backup plan for developing a new casino.
“Building is off the table,” Crandon said. “It’s absolutely an acquisition of an existing property.”
Matthew Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, said he has met with Crandon twice to discuss his plans and 2UP’s gambling website. Levinson stressed, though, that Crandon did not tell him which casino his group hopes to buy.
Although Levinson said Crandon’s group has not filed any papers yet with the commission, he believes the 2UP project could signal renewed faith in the Atlantic City market.
“This shows that people are still interested in Atlantic City,” Levinson said. “If 2UP buys or builds or even if nothing happens, it still shows that companies like 2UP and MidOil are interested. Hopefully, I’ll see more of these projects come to my door.”
At least two Boardwalk properties, Atlantic Club Casino Hotel and Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, are known to be looking for buyers. Atlantic Club’s proposed $15 million sale to online global gambling giant PokerStars fell through this summer. Trump Plaza had reached a preliminary $20 million sale agreement early this year with the California-based Meruelo Group, but that deal also collapsed.
2UP, one of Europe’s premier Internet gambling companies, wants to use Atlantic City as a platform for its online wagering operations in the United States. New Jersey is preparing for the scheduled Nov. 26 launch of Internet gambling on casino slot machines and table machines. Internet gambling is regarded as key to reinvigorating the Atlantic City casino market after a seven-year revenue slump.
Under New Jersey’s Internet gambling law, casinos must have a physical presence in Atlantic City to offer Web bets. The existing 12 casino hotels are lining up partnerships with online companies for Internet gambling sites.
In a preliminary step toward entering the Atlantic City market, 2UP has filed an application with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for an Internet license, Crandon said. 2UP is looking to buy an existing casino, rather than building its own, so it can be ready for the start of online gambling this fall.
“I think I-gaming is a game-changer for Atlantic City,” Crandon said. “We targeted the New Jersey market as the place we wanted to be.”
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