Houston Casino Coup

Tilman buys Trump, plans to pump $100 million into revamping marina casino

Tilman buys Trump, plans to pump $100 million into revamping marina casino

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Trump Marina
News_Tilman Fertitta
Tilman Fertitta Photo by Shelby Hodge
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Donald Trump Photo by Derek Blair/AFP
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Golden Nugget
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Tilman Fertitta's Houston-based Landry's Inc. empire has snatched up Donald Trump's Atlantic City Marina Hotel and Casino for a bargain price of $38 million, about a 10th of the offering price in 2008, and plans to convert the ailing resort casino into another Golden Nugget.

Trump's Trump Entertainment Resorts has been selling a number of properties in an effort to lessen its debt since filing for bankruptcy protection last February. 

Fertitta has plans to invest major funds in the hotel's renovation (Landry's has reportedly spent $300 million improving the Vegas Golden Nugget since acquiring it in 2005), and is planning a major blowout in November or December of this year, with an expected appearance in the property's marina by his 150-foot yacht. All improvements are expected to be complete by the end of 2011.

When asked about his rumored rave, Fertitta demurred. "Well, we'll see how it goes — hopefully so," he told CultureMap, adding that he expected the company to spend $100 million on renovations to what he calls a "great physical location."

"You've got to remember, Atlantic City is still the second-largest gaming market in America, and does more than $3 billion [a year] with just 11 casinos, so it really does better than Vegas in terms of money per casino."

And don't let Jersey Shore's Atlantic City jaunt give you the wrong impression — Landry's new resort destination will reside in the upscale Marina District, near Borgata and Harrah's. The new Golden Nugget will be the only casino in Atlantic City with a full-service marina, and include Landry's famous Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse, among other restaurant brands, bars, lounges and a new spa.

The purchase is something of a revival for Atlantic City, which continues to re-brand itself as a marketable resort destination. The Golden Nugget brand operated a casino resort there from 1980 to 1987.

"We're just really looking forward to the Golden Nugget having an East Coast presence," Fertitta said.