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 5:19PM
We stayed there once and it was a dump.   Some of the elevators didn't work and you could hardly see out the windows they were so filthy.
Feb 15, 2013 5:18PM
Anyone dealing with Tramp, is getting the  "fart of the deal.."
Feb 15, 2013 5:16PM
Anyone who can make that many millions is no idiot. Trump is a lot smarter than the people who elected you know who!
Feb 15, 2013 5:04PM
Just more proof that Donald's mother was an Orangutan.
Feb 15, 2013 5:00PM

Obama has turned a 9 trillion dollar deficit into a 16 trillion dollar one in a little over 4 years--------by the end

of his second term it will be probably 22 trillion or so-------------- I think I might take Trump and let Odumbo

run his other properties///////////////////////////

Feb 15, 2013 4:51PM


Isn't this looser that same Republican second guesser who pitched himself as a business man who has the answer to our countries financial problems. This loud mouth wacko with several bankruptcies under his belt sure knows how to make a buck. It isn't just anyone who can buy for 270 million then turn around and re-sell for 20 million. This guy really knows his stuff, if you don't believe it just ask him.

Feb 15, 2013 4:45PM
“Donald Trump, who has driven well past the last exit to relevance and peered into something closer to irresponsible here, is tweeting tonight."
Feb 15, 2013 4:39PM

Bankruptcy - the only thing Trump does well.

Feb 15, 2013 4:39PM
270 million to 20 million. Through depreciation he didnt lose, but certainly didnt make anything. This type of of finacial foresight and management is why he should be President of the United States. It would be a finacial improvement over the current one.
Feb 15, 2013 4:35PM

"There was a period of time when Atlantic City was the hottest place in the world"


No there was not--ever---not since they created monopoly

Feb 15, 2013 4:31PM
who is he kidding big tax right off as a lost 
Feb 15, 2013 4:29PM

Trump is a fossil with fake hair, fake tan and basically just phony personality. He needs a whole life make-over. Please disappear and save us for once and for all.

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 3:57PM
Another smart Republican.It must be that birther Obama`s fault.
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 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 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....?????

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 3:28PM
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.  
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