ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — Atlantic City's mayor said Wednesday there are six potential buyers for the Revel Casino Hotel, which is up for sale next month at a bankruptcy auction.
Don Guardian also said his administration has been in talks with the current owners of the former Atlantic Club casino about selling it to a new buyer.
It was not immediately clear whether a new buyer would seek to operate the Atlantic Club as a casino. However, a deed restriction as part of the sale from Caesars Entertainment to a Florida firm prohibits the building from being used again as a casino.
The city's Republican mayor spoke at a news conference on a parking lot in sweltering heat after he had lunch with state Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. James Whelan, a former Atlantic City mayor, about the possibility of the state allowing a casino to open in the northern New Jersey Meadowlands.
Guardian acknowledged the city is going through hard times with its rapidly shrinking casino industry, but sought to emphasize the positive, even as the Showboat and Trump Plaza prepared to shut down by September, and Revel could do likewise if a buyer is not found.
"No, I'm not happy that three casinos are closing," Guardian said. "But I know that behind closed doors there are a half-dozen companies looking at the opportunity to purchase Revel."
Revel, the city's newest casino, cost $2.4 billion to build. It opened in April 2012 but has declared bankruptcy twice. A spokeswoman for Revel as well as its president did not immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday.
Guardian also said Showboat has potential buyers, but did not say how many. He said he did not know of any potential buyers for Trump Plaza.
The mayor also revealed that the former Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, which shut down in January, could be sold yet again. Caesars Entertainment sold the building on May 29 to TJM Properties, which planned to run it as a non-casino hotel.
"We're meeting with TJM about a potential new buyer for that property," the mayor said, but would not go into detail.
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey has been seeking to locate a campus in Atlantic City and there was been speculation the college might seek a former casino building for such a purpose. But the college said Wednesday it has not targeted any specific building in the city.
Sherry Amos, a spokeswoman for TJM, had no immediate comment Wednesday.
Sweeney has said he is open to letting New Jersey voters decide through a referendum next year whether to amend the state Constitution and permit casino gambling in locations other than Atlantic City. But Wednesday, he was vague about what that would entail, promising only that he would not put forth any bill that does not sufficiently help Atlantic City.
Under proposals being considered by state officials, the operator of a casino at the Meadowlands race track would be taxed at a much higher rate than Atlantic City casinos and a certain as-yet unspecified percentage of that extra revenue would be returned to Atlantic City to help it deal with the in-state competition.
Sweeney said that whatever the percentage ultimately is, the money would be Constitutionally dedicated to help Atlantic City and could not be diverted to the state's general fund.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC