A Nevada company’s long-running bid to take over Casino Aztar in Evansville appeared to be heading for approval by state regulators,
months after an earlier deal was scuttled by the bankruptcy of the casino’s current owner.
The Indiana Gaming Commission was scheduled Nov. 13 to consider transferring Tropicana Entertainment’s casino license to Reno,
Nev.-based Eldorado Resorts LLC.
Ernest Yelten, the commission’s executive director, said an approval seemed very possible.
"I have yet to see anything within the
documentation that questions Eldorado’s suitability," he told the Evansville Courier
Even so, Yelten said the transfer will not be complete until Eldorado and Tropicana have entered into a new sales agreement.
In March, Eldorado Resorts agreed to buy the Evansville casino for as much as $245 million.
But Tropicana Entertainment declared bankruptcy the next month, canceling the earlier deal and prompting it to try to sell
the Ohio River casino again in an attempt to obtain a better price and satisfy its creditors.
Eldorado has kept its offer for Casino Aztar open, and since no new suitors came forward by the second auction’s Oct. 31 deadline,
it’s the only company with an offer on the table.
But Yelten noted that Tropicana Entertainment has reserved the right to try to keep the casino, which is among its top money
If Tropicana Entertainment does try to keep Casino Aztar, Indiana regulators will be forced to decide if they will allow the
company to retain its state license.
In a plan released outlining how the company will operate once it leaves bankruptcy, Tropicana says it expects Casino Aztar
to bring in $129.6 million in net revenue in 2008.
That makes the Evansville casino the company’s second-best performer, lagging behind only the Tropicana Atlantic City, which
is expected to have $374.9 million in net revenue this year.
Casino Aztar has shown its good fortunes by recently hiring more employees. Currently, it employs about 930 workers, and positions
remain open for nearly 80 more.
"Every casino market across the country is laying people off and we are trying to hire," said Tom Dingman, an attorney
Casino Aztar has been the fifth-busiest casino in Indiana so far in 2008, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission, with
The casino has paid out nearly $8 million to the state in gaming taxes this year through October.
The casino has more than 1,200 slot machines and two hotels with more than 350 rooms in total. It was the first riverboat
casino to open in Indiana.