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ATLANTIC CITY-A US Bankruptcy Court last week approved the sale of the Tropicana resort and casino here to a group of investors reportedly led by Carl Icahn. The purchase is expected to close by year’s end, according to a statement from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

In April, the commission green-lighted the sale of the 2,125-room property to a group of its lenders and authorized the casino’s conservator to request a US Bankruptcy Court judge to schedule an auction of the asset.

A deal with those senior lenders, which is said to include Carl Icahn, was finalized. Under the terms of that agreement, the lenders agreed to serve as the “stalking horse” in the bankruptcy court action with a bid of $200 million. The statement from the commission reports that the investors will gain ownership in exchange for the cancellation of $200 million of their secured claims. Other commission approvals must be obtained before the sale is completed. In 2007, the commission declined to renew the Tropicana’s license, finding its then-owners unsuitable.

While the Icahn-led investors have won the Tropicana, casinos in the city are losing big. A May report from the commission found that casino revenue fell 15.4% to $351.3 million from the same month a year earlier. Casino revenues, or wins, are the net amount of dollars won by the casinos; it is not profit. For the first five months of the year, casinos won $1.6 billion, down 15.7% from the same period in 2008.

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