Caesars says it will consider offers for Showboat

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News,Business

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The parent company of the Showboat Casino Hotel said Tuesday it would consider selling the property to another casino operator if it made a reasonable offer and could be licensed.

The company has received expressions of interest and will do its due diligence if it receives a reasonable offer, Caesars Entertainment spokesman Gary Thompson said. Caesars plans to close the Showboat on Aug. 31.

Caesars CEO Gary Loveman said last month that closing the Showboat was necessary to protect the rest of its business in Atlantic City, where analysts say contraction is needed to overcome an oversupply of casinos. Caesars currently runs four of the city's 11 casinos.

Thompson said concerns over the impact of having another casino in the market would "play somewhat of a role, but I think the largest role would be the amount of money we could receive from the property."

The Showboat would be the second casino to close this year in the nation's third-largest gambling market. The Atlantic Club closed in January, taken down in a bankruptcy sale by Caesars and Tropicana Entertainment, who stripped it for parts and closed it to reduce competition.

Revel Casino Hotel has warned it might shut down if a buyer can't be found in bankruptcy court.

State Assemblyman Chris Brown, a Republican who represents Atlantic County, said at a news conference Tuesday on the boardwalk outside of the Showboat that Caesars' plan to close the casino while it was still profitable was "unconscionable."

He said he plans to introduce legislation that would encourage casinos to sell to other casino operators if they plan to close. If not, the casinos would have to pay back economic incentives.

Thompson said expressions of interest have come from groups interested in operating the property as a hotel-casino or for other uses. He said the company would need to determine if a potential buyer that wanted to run the property as a casino could be licensed by the state.

"We receive offers on properties relatively frequently and when we are planning to close one, we often receive offers from people who want to operate them as hotel casinos or have other uses in mind," Thompson said.

The Showboat posted a gross operating profit of nearly $2 million for the first quarter of this year. But that was down from nearly $8.5 million in the first quarter of 2013.

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