Appeals court rejects Straub's claim to ex-Showboat casino

Appeals court rejects Straub's claim to ex-Showboat casino

By Wayne Parry, Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 9, 2017 at 5:07 p.m.

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Glenn Straub has lost another round in his real-life game of Monopoly in Atlantic City.

An appeals court on Thursday rejected a claim by the owner of the former Revel casino that he should be able to buy the former Showboat casino. The court ruled that a lower court judge was correct in allowing Stockton University to terminate its contract to sell the property to Straub in the midst of a tortured effort to dispose of the building.

Straub, who is battling with New Jersey regulators over when and how the former Revel should reopen under the new name Ten, had sued Stockton over his failed attempt to buy the Showboat. Stockton bought the shuttered casino from Caesars Entertainment in 2014, hoping to establish a long-sought urban campus in Atlantic City.

But the college could not resolve complicated and conflicting legal claims on how the property could be used.

The college then sold the property to Straub for $26 million in 2015, but later terminated the deal after determining Straub was not serious about buying it.

Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein then bought the Showboat and opened it as a non-gambling hotel.

"Obstructionism will not stop the rebirth of Atlantic City," Blatstein said Thursday. "I believe this clarifies everything."

Straub said the ruling "didn't hurt us that much" because he has since bought the power plant that fueled Revel while it was open. When he signed a deal to buy the Showboat, it was primarily to connect its utilities to Revel, something he no longer needs to do.

"That was the whole reason we were even looking at the Showboat," he said, adding that his lawyers are looking for grounds to appeal the matter to the state Supreme Court.

He scooped up the $2.4 billion Revel from bankruptcy court for $82 million and attempted to buy the Showboat, located next door. He has also tried to buy Bader Field, the former airport site, and has talked about trying to acquire Boardwalk Hall as part of a planned $500 million investment in Atlantic City he calls The Phoenix Project.

Caesars Entertainment shut the still-profitable Showboat on Aug. 31, 2014, in the name of reducing competition in the struggling Atlantic City casino market. In December of that year, it sold the property for $18 million to Stockton.

But Caesars Entertainment placed a deed restriction on the Showboat before selling it to Stockton. At the time, city and state officials said the restriction prevented it from ever being used as a casino again. But Blatstein revealed Thursday that the restriction only lasts 10 years, through 2024.

The Caesars Entertainment restriction clashed with a 1988 covenant signed by Showboat, the Trump Taj Mahal and Resorts, mandating that the Showboat never be used as anything other than a casino.

Stockton did not get the covenant resolved before buying the Showboat, and Taj Mahal owner Trump Entertainment Resorts refused to waive it, fearing that underage college students next door would sneak into the Taj Mahal to drink and gamble, exposing the casino to costly fines.

Blatstein said last October that he and billionaire Carl Icahn, who at the time owned the Taj Mahal, had reached an agreement resolving the deed restrictions and allowing the Showboat to continue to operate as a non-gambling hotel.


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