Betfair New Jersey Future Uncertain with Trump Plaza Closing

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What will happen to online casino partner Betfair if the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City closes as expected in September?
With the Trump Plaza likely to close, Betfair must find a new partner or cease its online operations in New Jersey . (Image: AP)

The Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City is expected to close in mid-September, plunging the future of the online poker and casino platform it operates with Betfair into uncertainty and hammering another nail into the coffin of the city’s stricken land-based casino industry.

Speaking to the Associated Press, representatives for Trump Entertainment Resorts said that they had been “reviewing alternatives for the property,” and that while no final decision has been made, it was likely that the casino will cease to be on September 16th. Notices warning employees of the impending date were sent out to the casino’s 1,000-plus employees last week.

The news, of course, comes just weeks after Caesars announced its intention to close the Showboat Casino, while Revel, which has hemorrhaged money ever since it opened in 2012, is desperately seeking a buyer through the bankruptcy courts. The Atlantic Club, meanwhile, was shut down at the end of last year and was sold in January to be stripped for parts.

Where Now for Betfair?

Betfair, the world’s biggest betting exchange and one of the UK’s largest betting companies, announced its partnership with Trump Plaza in October last year and currently offers online poker and casino games at Under New Jersey law, a company such as Betfair is required to partner with an existing Atlantic City land-based casino in order offer remote gaming in the state. Should Trump Plaza close, Betfair would be forced to find another partner or call it a day in New Jersey.

Betfair has yet to make a formal announcement, but considering the amount of money it has invested in New Jersey, it’s likely that it will attempt to pursue a new partnership. While the traffic at the online poker site is practically non-existent, having amassed a whopping $48 so far this year in gross revenue (we kid you not!), its casino games are faring rather better, with $3.7 million in gross gaming revenue for 2014.

There is, however, still a chance that a buyer may be found for the Trump Plaza. A source apparently told Fox News: “The company has hired a search firm to solicit buyers for Trump Plaza, an effort that remains ongoing. So far, no buyer has emerged.”

Sale Unlikely

A sale that would allow casino operations to continue seems unlikely to happen, however. Trump Plaza is the poorest-performing casino in Atlantic City and Trump Entertainment has been seeking a buyer since 2011. Furthermore, with increasing competition from neighboring states, the casino market in Atlantic City has become saturated, and many feel it needs to lose a few casinos in order to survive.

The casino, which was built by Donald Trump in a joint venture with Harrahs for $210 million, opened its doors in 1984. Trump bought Harrahs out in 1989, but has since taken a back seat, limiting his stake to 10 percent, and today has little to do with its operations. Last year, the Trump Plaza’s gross gaming revenue was just under $73 million, the lowest in Atlantic City. It has taken in $21 million, down 27 percent from the same period last year.

In 2013, the company attempted to sell the property for $20 million to the Californian-based Meruelo Group. The deal fell through when Trump Entertainment was unable to get a release on its mortgage, with the senior lender refusing to approve the sale at such a low price.

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