Atlantic City attorney and businessman George Miller holds a tiny stake in a Pennsylvania racetrack casino. Now, he wants a big chunk of the Atlantic City gambling market.
Miller and his business partner, Pennsylvania real estate mogul Kevin Flynn, have formed an investment group to buy an Atlantic City casino. At this point, they aren't saying which one, although Miller confirmed they have been considering the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.
"We're looking at properties. We're looking all over the place," Miller said.
He added, "I have not eliminated the Atlantic Club."
Miller and Flynn are minority owners of the Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack in Chester, Pa., a property controlled by Caesars Entertainment Corp. Miller once owned a bigger interest in Harrah's Philadelphia but has pared his ownership to just 0.25 percent. Flynn also owns 0.25 percent of Harrah's Philadelphia, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Miller has a diverse investment portfolio, including his ownership of the Longport Media LLC radio group. His relationship with Caesars Entertainment in Pennsylvania might give him an inside track if the company chooses to part with any of its four Atlantic City casinos - Bally's, Caesars, Harrah's Resort or Showboat.
Miller mentioned Showboat as one casino that could come on the market. He also counts the Atlantic Club, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Golden Nugget Atlantic City and Revel Casino-Resort as possibilities. So far, only the Atlantic Club, Trump Plaza and Golden Nugget have formally announced they will entertain offers.
Although he declined to reveal whether he is zeroing in on a particular casino, Miller said he would like to have a deal in hand by the end of the year. He stressed that his investment group, which includes members he declined to publicly name, has spent "some serious dollars" evaluating the market for potential buys.
"I think we're going to make a serious attempt," he said.
Discounted sale prices and the scheduled Nov. 26 launch of Internet gambling are making the Atlantic City market more attractive to would-be buyers, particularly bargain hunters.
In addition to Internet gambling, Miller also would like to see Atlantic City get sports betting, now being blocked by the courts while litigation continues over its legality.
Miller remains encouraged by Gov. Chris Christie and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney's political support to revitalize the resort's economy, efforts to draw new air service to Atlantic City International Airport and the construction of new nongambling attractions to broaden the city's appeal to tourists.
"They political winds are blowing in the right direction," Miller said. "There's a lot of good on the horizon."
European Internet gambling companies PokerStars and 2UP Gaming are among those scouting the Atlantic City market for casino buys. Earlier this year, PokerStars announced a tentative deal to buy the Atlantic Club for $15 million, the lowest sale price ever for an Atlantic City casino. The sale disintegrated when Atlantic Club pulled out, but the deal underscored that casinos may now be bought for just a fraction of their original construction price.
Trump Plaza, built for $210 million in 1984, was nearly sold for $20 million early this year to the California-based Meruelo Group. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who holds Trump Plaza's mortgage, blocked the deal, contending the sale price was too low.
Landry's Inc., parent company of Golden Nugget, announced in August it would consider selling the casino or its Internet gambling rights after posting "less than stellar results in the Atlantic City market."
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