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Atlantic City execs remain upbeat

25 April 2008

ATLANTIC CITY -- As reported by the Philadelphia Daily News: "What was supposed to be the next, and glitziest, round of casino enhancement in Atlantic City started with a literal bang back in the fall.

"...In the last few months, things have seemed quite red in this bluest of states. Casino profits have withered - all the way into deficits at many casinos. New figures show that Atlantic City visitors are down for the second straight year.

"...The troubled Tropicana is being run by the state, which is looking for a buyer. The Trump Organization has taken its casinos off the market, and other projects are moving forward in permits but not with groundbreaking.

"...Jeff Vasser, executive director of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority, was a bit more upbeat. He admitted that 'when the markets seize up, things can't be what they were; but noted that no other casino project was off-schedule, and that the MGM project in the Marina district had hired a general manager in recent weeks, which he viewed as a confident sign.

"...Curtis Bashaw, the former head of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, a state agency overseeing development in Atlantic City, is bullish about the resort's long term.

"He is now co-chief executive of Cape Advisors, which is redeveloping two old Atlantic City hotels into the 330-room, high-end Chelsea. He's also getting preliminary approvals for a casino-hotel in the southern end of town.

"...Bashaw's Chelsea should be opening in a couple of months, and the hotel towers scheduled to open this year at the Borgata, Harrah's and the Trump Taj Mahal are either finished or nearly so.

"The Borgata's will be a stand-alone, non-casino, 800-room hotel, The Water Club, with its own spa and other amenities. Borgata President Larry Mullin said recently that he hopes the current economic downslide doesn't turn builders off to Atlantic City.

"...For Harrah's, which owns four casino properties in Atlantic City, the downturn is merely a time to take stock..."

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