New Jersey court has dashed the hopes of the owners of two former Atlantic City casino hotels who filed a case to remove the anti-gambling deed restrictions on their properties. This comes as the first setback to their case but it seems that the owners plan to push on.
The owners of the old Atlantic Club Casino Hotel and Claridge Hotel aren’t looking to back down after the loss at court as they have indicated they plan to keep fighting to bring casino gaming back at their properties.
The motion was filled by TJM Atlantic City, LLC (Claridge) and Colosseo Atlantic City, Inc. (Atlantic Club) which sought to get the judiciary intervene in a ruling by the NJ Casino Control Commission which was made last year. Unfortunately, the motion was thrown out the window by the appellate court.
The issue stems from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission’s resolution to not demand the removal of deed restrictions on the three Atlantic City Casino hotels when a merger of Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment was approved by the regulatory agency in August 2020.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement alongside an economist both sought for the lifting of the deed restrictions on both casino hotels.
Representative from Caesars Entertainment has also agreed to remove the restrictive covenants as a yardstick of the merger’s approval.
Conclusively, the Casino Control Commission enforced 39 requirements as part of the merger agreement, however, it elected not to lift the outstanding deed restrictions.
Commission Chairman James Plousis said that doing so would “greatly complicate” the Eldorado/Caesars deal and that it was an “academic exercise seeking to remedy perceived ills” unrelated to the merger. Plousis said the issue warranted further discussion among all stakeholders.
This decision has resulted in a legal battle that will seem to continue for months to come.
Claridge, Atlantic Club Owners Won’t Back Down
Colosseo and TJM filed an appeal last September, alleging the CCC acted “arbitrarily, capriciously and unreasonably” in rejecting the recommendations.
The NJ Appellate Division rather than looking into the case, dismissed the appeal in December, according to court documents recently obtained.
“We are disappointed and disagree with the Appellate Court’s decision,” the two companies said in a joint statement. “We believe the deed restrictions are anti-competitive and plan to pursue all legal remedies to allow gaming at our properties.”
At the moment, the Casino Control Commission has not made any comments on the rejected motion, however, a reply might be in the works as the owners are not relenting on their efforts to get their properties back to their former glories.
The former casino hotels have been out of the casino gaming industry for some time now. The former Atlantic Club has remained under lock and key since 2014 while TJM sold the property to Colosseo in 2019. The Claridge has remained in operation but as a hotel property, a status it has held since 2014.
The Showboat did not take part in the appeal. The former casino property is already making plans to explore becoming a gambling hub again. In fact, it is the only one of the three that already has clearance. Bart Blatstein, the Philadelphia-based developer and owner of the Showboat is already looking forward to applying for a casino license after receiving the necessary clearance.
While he had initially claimed that he would circumvent the deed restriction and go ahead to construct a new casino facility right next to the Showboat, things seem to have changed since he was cleared. Blatstein has turned his attention into building an indoor water park rather than bringing casino gaming back to the Showboat.