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Penn National Gaming Seeks Control Over Bader Field

By Chuckmonster on Wednesday, 23rd January 2008 2:14pm
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Well, this is an interesting development in the ongoing Bader Field debate. Riverboat and racetrack operator Penn National Gaming has offered to purchase the recently closed airport from the City of Atlantic City for $800M, circumventing a proposed bidding process for the hotly sought after landmass.

It appears that Penn National wishes to become Bader Field king maker, subdividing the massive plot into three or four chunks, keeping one and offering the rest for sale. Proceeds beyond $800M sale price would go to the City. Penn National is banking on the City to accept two $50M payments in each of the next two years to help assuage tax burdens on local residents, in return they are guaranteed a plot at Bader and the power over deals for the remaining parcels. Will the City cash out Penn National's carrot shaped, cash-filled pinata, or play their unbeatable hand to the river?

While immediate tax relief is quite attractive, relinquishing control of the Bader tract - and possibly a larger payday - before all of the big players have had a chance to get out their checkbooks probably isn't a prudent move given current state of developments in Atlantic City. With nearly all resorts in the throes of major capital investments, and numerous new properties either digging or drawing, handing Bader's future to a gaming operator that has limited 'big stage' development experience is risky at best.

It is doubtful that the major players who are positioned to either enter into or expand Atlantic City holdings - Wynn Resorts, Crown Limited, MGMMirage, Pinnacle Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands - would be interested in playing second, third or fourth fiddle to an operator that has little experience developing monolithic integrated resorts, regardless of Penn National being - by the numbers - the third largest gaming operator in the buisiness.

This pre-emptive bid by Penn National is quite interesting, and is somewhat reminiscent of how Macau's Gaming Concessions are run as well as Las Vegas Sands' Corporation's vision for the master-planned casino development, The Cotai Strip.

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