U.S. casino operator Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. has made diversifying beyond Atlantic City, New Jersey, a priority and is closing in on its first deal, its chief executive said on Monday.
Donald Trump's casino company, which recently failed to reach a deal with potential buyers, operates three casinos in Atlantic City, the second-largest U.S. gambling market, which has suffered from increased competition from new gaming facilities in nearby Pennsylvania and New York.
The company and the board and senior management know the need to diversify out of Atlantic City is something that is a real priority for us, said CEO Mark Juliano in an interview with Reuters.
The company, whose chairman and largest shareholder is U.S. real estate mogul Donald Trump, was looking at opportunities in Oregon and Massachusetts as well as deals to manage casinos associated with Donald Trump's real estate projects overseas, said Juliano.
We are very close to one, said Juliano, describing the possible deal as a management contract associated with one of Trump's projects. That will happen or not happen shortly.
Trump is building hotels in Dubai, the Dominican Republic, and Toronto, a resort in Mexico, and residential towers in Seoul. His Trump Ocean Club project in Panama is to include a casino as well as a hotel and residential units.
Trump Entertainment, which has racked up about $66.1 million in losses since exiting bankruptcy in May 2005, is also open to swapping one of its casinos for a property outside Atlantic City.
If there's an asset swap that's acceptable to us, we would do it for sure, said Juliano. It is something we are exploring and have explored and will continue to explore.
He also said the casino company would sell one of its properties if it gets the right price, but he said the company is not planning on unloading a casino.
We're running the company as if this is the way it's going to look a year from know or two years from now, he said.
Trump Entertainment's casinos are struggling along with the rest of Atlantic City. Gross operating profit at the seaside gambling resort's casinos fell 19 percent in the second quarter, according to the New Jersey gambling regulator.
Trump Entertainment's casinos had a mixed performance compared to the rest of the market. The Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal posted 11.4 percent and 12.3 percent falls in second-quarter gross operating profit, respectively, while the Trump Marina's operating profit tumbled 33.5 percent.
Trump Entertainment's shares, which have fallen about 64 percent so far this year, were down 24 cents at $6.40 in afternoon trade on Nasdaq.