Atlantic City Tropicana: Second Place is Not So Bad

Tropicana Casino Hotel: Best of the Boardwalk

For years Tropicana was mismanaged and the people knew it.


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Ten years ago, Atlantic City’s Tropicana casino was on the verge of death, having been stripped of its casino license after its then-owners laid off vast swaths of the workforce, leading to filthy rooms, insect infestations, hourlong waits for slot machine payouts and food and drink orders that often never arrived.

The hotel has made it back from the abyss and the numbers are showing it.

“It’s an incredible difference and transformation,” said Tony Rodio, president of Tropicana Entertainment.

The Tropicana ended 2017 second among Atlantic City’s seven casinos in terms of total gambling revenue with $390 million, trailing only the perennial market leader Borgata, which had more than $800 million.

Not that everything is perfect. On Wednesday, a guest set up an illegal methamphetamine laboratory in a Tropicana hotel room, starting a fire that forced the temporary evacuation of four floors and injuring two people: the man charged with drug and other offenses, and a hotel worker who entered the room.

Ten years ago, the trouble started under the Tropicana’s former owners, Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex Corp, which laid off 900 workers — about a quarter of the staff — leaving it dirty and understaffed.

But this was totally gross. How could any place let that happen?

“I noticed as I walked across the tile floor that I almost lost my shoes, the floor was so sticky,” Fabian wrote.

The Casino Control Commission stripped the Tropicana’s casino license, which can be the death penalty for an Atlantic City casino. But it allowed the casino to continue operating while new owners were sought.

 The outsiders see the difference and they are bullish.

“I’m very impressed with what Tropicana has done over the last 10 years,” said Steve Norton, a former Atlantic City casino executive-turned-casino analyst. “They didn’t have the funds to do what they needed to do, and Icahn’s money has made a big difference there.”

But McDevitt praised Icahn for hiring many former Taj Mahal workers at the Tropicana, and for reinvesting in the property.

“We had a major fight with Carl Icahn at the Taj Mahal, but I’m not going to be a hypocrite and ignore the fact that the Tropicana is one of the best-run properties in the industry,” he said. “They systematically have made it better and better.”

        One thing that always stood out is the well done Havana Quarter shopping area.