Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the closing of the Showboat casino in Atlantic City, and owner Stockton University said its weighing “several” options of expressed interest and hopes a sale is forthcoming.
After a special meeting was held so that the university’s board of trustees could consider the offers, Harvey Kesselman the acting president said the property could be sold soon. Kesselman said, “This special meeting was called so that board and senior leadership could discuss the various terms and offers being proposed and evaluate which would be in the best interest of Stockton,” adding, “We look forward to bringing this to a conclusion in the near future.”
Still profitable within the Atlantic City casino market, the Showboat Hotel and Casino was closed last year by then owner Caesars Entertainment in order to reduce competition in the Atlantic City gambling market which was struggling. Believing that it would be released from a covenant requiring the site be used as a casino, Herman Saatkamp, the University of Stockton’s president at the time purchased the property for $18 million later in 2014. The university had hoped that the property could be converted into an Island Campus and privately run hotel, but refusal by Taj Mahal owner Trump Entertainment Resorts to waive the covenant and competing legal claims have prevented that from happening.
The deed restriction placed on the property by Caesars directly conflicts with a 1988 land covenant between Trump Taj Mahal and Resorts and the Showboat that mandates that the property can only be used as a first class casino and hotel.
On July 23, legislation that would free the university from the conflicting land covenants was advanced by by the Senate’s State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committees. Caesars Entertainment opposes the proposal by Assemblyman and State Senator Jim Whelan that states that deed restrictions or covenants on publicly held property in the tourism district of Atlantic City violates public interest.
Last month a judge ruled Stockton University’s contract with Glenn Straub, a Florida developer and new owner of the Revel casino, terminated, enabling the school to find a new buyer.
A claim has been filed in an Illinois bankruptcy court by Stockton University asking the judge to sort the matter out, but that hasn’t happened yet.