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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ-When Columbia Sussex failed to get relicensed by the Casino Control Commission for its 2,129-room Tropicana Casino and Resort, the sprawling property was effectively put on the market for sale. And a sale could take place very soon. According to published reports, several suitors have already emerged for a property that could carry a price tag as high as $1 billion.

Indeed, at a press conference this week, CCC chairman Linda Kassekert commented that a sale could happen “within weeks.” The press conference was held to announce that the Trop was fully open and operational, with its existing management in place, overseen by former NJ State Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein in place as a trustee.

The first name to emerge as a potential buyer was Dennis Gomes, the Trop’s CEO when it was owned by Aztar Entertainment, who would head a partnership to buy the place. Columbia Sussex acquired the property as part of its $3-billion acquisition of Aztar.

In recent days, other suitors that have emerged include the Baltimore-based Cordish Co., which owns the Walk, a $110-million retail and entertainment complex in the heart of this city; race track and casino owner Penn National Gaming; and Pinnacle Entertainment. The latter was involved in the bidding war for Aztar that was ultimately won by Columbia Sussex and has since launched its own project here, the $1.5-billion redevelopment of the former Sands Hotel site.

The potential sale comes at a time when the Crestview Hills, KY-based Columbia Sussex is preparing to sell casino properties in Evansville, IN and Vicksburg, MS. “We have developed a plan to address recent challenges by selling [these] properties…in an orderly manner,” says Columbia Sussex president and CEO William Yung, in a statement. “[We will] be retiring our senior credit facility and positioning ourselves for long-term growth with what we hope will be a stronger balance sheet.”

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