Donald Trump sells his casino for a song

The Donald's departure, the new ownership at Trump Plaza and the return of Miss America could end the slumping gaming mecca's losing streak.

By Jason Notte Feb 15, 2013 2:10PM
Credit: Donna Ward/Getty Images
Caption: Donald Trump leaves 'The Late Show with David Letterman' at Ed Sullivan Theater on October 25, 2012Donald Trump is slowly clearing out of town just as Miss America returns. You'll pardon Atlantic City, N.J., if it sees both as positive developments.

Trump Plaza, the casino Trump opened in 1984 by spending to $210 million to hitch a tower to an abandoned Holiday Inn on the boardwalk and deck out the whole thing, was sold to the Meruelo Group for a scant $20 million. It's the lowest price ever paid for a casino in Atlantic City and will only put a slight dent in the $270 million debt of parent company Trump Entertainment Resorts, which Donald Trump only has a 10% stake in.

Coupled with the announcement that the Miss America pageant will come back to Atlantic City after six years in Las Vegas, it was a double dose of good news for a town badly in need of some.

Hurricane Sandy ripped into the boardwalk and shuttered casinos for nearly a week. Gambling revenue has declined from its peak of $5 billion in 2006 to just $3.1 billion last year as casinos in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut took larger pieces of the action. In 2012, Pennsylvania's $3.2 billion in gaming revenue eclipsed New Jersey's for the first time and moved the Keystone State into second place behind Nevada's more than $10 billion, according to The Press Of Atlantic City.

So how is the bargain-basement sale of a casino good news for the town? Just ask the Trump Plaza's workers, who like the look of what the Meruelo Group's Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nev.

"Because of Trump Entertainment's problems, they really weren't able to run (Trump Plaza) the way it needed to be run," Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union representing most of the casino's 900 workers, told The Associated Press. "It's been in hibernation."

Trump himself doesn't seem too fazed by the sale, despite the fact that the casino went for the cost of a story of any of the tower properties in his portfolio. The price is also only about twice what he paid for his sprawling Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach in 1985 and may not be far from what he spent to gild his Trump Tower penthouse in Manhattan that was featured in Refinery 29 a year ago.

"There was a period of time when Atlantic City was the hottest place in the world," Trump told AP. "I got out years ago, and my timing was very good. But the world turns. They're getting a very good location."

Even Robert Griffin, the CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts who sold off Atlantic City's Trump Marina in 2011 for $38 million and is listening to offers for his company's last Atlantic City property -- the Trump Taj Mahal -- sees the Plaza's sale as a positive development “for the city, the state and The Plaza” that shows “considerable interest in this market.”

It would be tough for it to get any worse for the Plaza, which was one of the smallest casinos in Atlantic City at 906 rooms and whose $102 million in revenue in 2012 is what Atlantic City's top casino makes in its two strongest months. Winnings were down 25% last year and profits cratered by 34%. The place could use some good luck, and some new faces paying the bills may be just what the Plaza needs to stop its losing streak.

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Feb 15, 2013 2:48PM
The man is a brilliant financier.  Turns $270 million into $20 million. 
Feb 15, 2013 3:14PM
Old Donald - what has happened to you.  People used to like and respect you.  Now, you have become a laughing stock and people think you are a complete ****.
Feb 15, 2013 3:10PM
was open for over 25 years  they did not say how  much was  made in that period. i don't think anybody has lost a dime  on any of  it. the way  people  with big  money cover stuff  up the profit would  scare you
Feb 15, 2013 3:20PM

using "other people's money" the extra money kept flowing into TRUMP's pocket!  so who's the fool?  he's never even gone to jail! 


legal is not always ethical......sad

Feb 15, 2013 3:24PM
Probably made his money, now anything is gravy.

looks like the Trump is headed to his fourth bankruptcy


must be nice to lose hundreds of millions of dollars each bankruptcy and still have your Dad's old banker friends loan you more hundreds of millions to get you back on your feet again.


This is what is wrong with America in a nutshell.


The bankers loaning out your money to creeps and watching as they lose the money and then loaning them even more of your hard earned money


Yep the Wall Street bankers lost your money for you and now they have been resupplied by the Federal Reserve and giving themselves even more money. The US is the most corrupt country in the world. They are even over charging for things to the tune of $2 trillion a year to put our children in debt.



Feb 15, 2013 3:23PM
Maybe the comb over really hides a metal plate.
Feb 15, 2013 3:28PM
Everything about Trump is bush-league, except in HIS mind.  His casino in Vegas is hideous - a cube shaped bore off the beaten path.  And then there's that trampy lounge-looking first wife of his with whom he actually procreated offspring;  I could find more appealing women in any trailer park in America.  And remember the infamous Tour de Trump bicycle race tour he owned back in the eighties.  Whatever happened to that?  Everything he creates he eventually has to sell because it's such an abysmal failure.  
Feb 15, 2013 3:24PM
Notice how Trump always "seems" to get the art of the deal..........

"There was a period of time when Atlantic City was the hottest place in the world," Trump told AP. "I got out years ago, and my timing was very good. But the world turns. They're getting a very good location."

Yes Donald, the world does turn, despite what you like us to believe.......this guy is the biggest con in the wonder the right-wingers always have him on their shows.

Feb 15, 2013 3:32PM
Wow.... so when is Donald running for president? He will cut the government spending in half by 3025. So Donald, who are you crappin....?????
Feb 15, 2013 4:07PM
i thought this was the man who wrote the book "the art of the steal".
looks like he got pick-pocketed himself.

this joke of a man, along with his silver spooned kids, needs to just go away!

Feb 15, 2013 5:24PM
Can we just get rid of Trump now? Curious is this the same Casino of which he wanted to force a woman out of her home so that he could build a parking for????
Feb 15, 2013 3:53PM
i use to like the guy before he started making him self look so stupid,he should really use some of that money to fix his face,i dont see business men like worren buffett and bill gates acting so stupid in public,i will never go to any of his crapy casinos,i hope they all go bankrupt.
Feb 15, 2013 5:23PM
The comb-over.....Just hides an "empty space."
Feb 15, 2013 5:18PM
Anyone dealing with Tramp, is getting the  "fart of the deal.."
Feb 15, 2013 7:17PM
I guess now trump will claim bankruptcy for the sixth time and stand there with his hand out expecting more tax payer bail outs..........again. Someone should just stamp his face with the "Sunkist"  logo. I've never seen anybody ever that was so orange except for maybe the weeper of the house john boehnor. It must be a connie thing.
Feb 15, 2013 3:45PM
Careful Republicans... the chump that is Trump could be foretelling the obvious... that you can only be a complete a-hole so long, then you exit the game a loser. To sell and have cash just as the whole thing crashes is pretty lame. Then again... he could double his lameness and buy into gold, guns and ammo just as all three of these get slammo-d.
Feb 15, 2013 5:40PM

Trump has become the PT Barnum of our time, however he isn't nearly as good.  He's become a big blowhard, and nothing more.  


The only lesson American Business has learned from this welch artist is not to fly all your top corporate officers on the same flight like he did years ago when most of his corporate officers died in a helicopter accident.  That lesson was learned by big and small corporations.

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