Update 9:38 a.m.: Bankruptcy made some Tropicana bidders hold back | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Update 9:38 a.m.: Bankruptcy made some Tropicana bidders hold back

Wayne Parry, Associated Press Writer

The looming threat of a bankruptcy filing made some potential bidders for the Tropicana Casino and Resort ” which of its nine properties has two Lake Tahoe casinos ” hold back on their offers with the hopes they might be able to buy it on the cheap, the conservator overseeing the sale said today.

“Some of them may have believed they could buy it for a song,” said retired state Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein. “If that is their belief, they’re going to be disabused of that belief. We’re prepared to go back and resume conversations with other interested buyers if that’s necessary.”

The bankruptcy filing would cover nine properties, including the Horizon Casino Resort and MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore.

The property’s former owners, Tropicana Entertainment LLC, filed late Monday night for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, listing assets of $2.8 billion and liabilities of $3.3 billion.

The filing covered nine of the company’s casino-hotels, including the Tropicana in Las Vegas, but not the one in Atlantic City, which it no longer controls.

The company plans to continue operating its remaining properties without interruption and maintain current staffing levels of 11,000.

The Tropicana, which includes New Jersey’s largest hotel at 2,129 rooms, lost its casino license Dec. 12 when the state Casino Control Commission decided that Tropicana Entertainment and its Kentucky-based corporate affiliates were incapable of running the type of “first-class operation” required under New Jersey law. That denial required the property to be overseen by a conservator until it can be sold.

Stein said many potential buyers knew a bankruptcy filing was likely, and may have been holding back from making their highest offers. He said he spoke to potential buyers Monday night and this morning to urge them to lay their cards on the table.

“We know you couldn’t pull the trigger until this happened, but now we’ve gotta know” what your final offer is, Stein said he told the potential buyers. He would not say how many bidders are in the running.

Mark Giannantonio, president of the Tropicana in Atlantic City, stressed that the casino and hotel remain open, with no interruption in operations.

“The hotel and casino operations of Tropicana Atlantic City continue in a completely business-as-usual manner,” he said. “Our continuing and successful efforts to assure our customers of the highest-quality hotel, entertainment and casino experience are in full swing and receiving high praise from reviewers and customers alike.”

Stein said it is possible that within a few days, it will become clearer whether any of the parties is prepared to close a deal for the Tropicana soon, or whether a wider net needs to be cast.

In addition to MontBleu and Horizon at Lake Tahoe, other properties that would be covered under the bankruptcy filing are the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Las Vegas; Bayou Caddy’s Jubilee Casino in Greenville, Miss.; Casino Aztar in Evansville, Ind.; Horizon Casino Hotel in Vicksburg, Miss.; the Tropicana Express Hotel & Casino and River Palms Resort & Casino in Laughlin, Nev.; and the Sheraton Hotel and Belle of Baton Rouge Casino in Baton Rouge, La.

” The Tahoe Daily Tribune contributed to this report

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