GAMBLING

Showboat Hotel Atlantic City Hire Could Signal Casino Push


Posted on: January 21, 2024, 10:29h. 

Last updated on: January 21, 2024, 10:29h.

The Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City hasn’t offered a slot machine or table game since Caesars Entertainment closed the Boardwalk property on Aug. 31, 2014. A recent hire at the family-focused resort could hint that ownership might soon pursue a casino license.

Showboat Atlantic City casino license
Speculation is rampant about gaming returning to the Showboat after the resort hired Anthony Farcana, a longtime gaming industry executive. The Showboat hasn’t had a slot machine in nearly a decade. (Image: Showboat Hotel Atlantic City)

Showboat announced last week the hiring of Anthony Farcana as its next general manager. Farcana arrives after serving as president of the neighboring Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. He previously worked in executive capacities at Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland and Parx Casino near Philadelphia.

Farcana’s resume includes executive stints at Station Casinos in Nevada and at Caesars Entertainment where he led regional operations.

We are thrilled to announce the addition of such a decorated executive to the Showboat team,” said Bart Blatstein, the owner of the Showboat through his Philadelphia-based Tower Investments real estate firm. “Anthony has the experience and qualities that will ensure he is a valuable asset to not only our Showboat family, but also the entire community.”

Farcana’s appointment brings plenty of speculation that Blatstein will seek a casino license from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

Deed Restriction Set to Expire

Caesars a decade ago closed the Showboat despite the resort remaining profitable to ease competition at its three other properties in town. When the Mardi Gras-themed destination was shuttered, Caesars placed a deed restriction on the property that prevented it from being used as a casino.

That deed restriction, according to Jim Kennedy, a former executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) and a local economic analyst, expires this November.

It sure looks like a Showboat casino is in play,” Kennedy tweeted on X.

Blatstein has toyed with the idea of a casino in the past.

In 2019, he contemplated a deed restriction workaround by suggesting building a new brick-and-mortar structure adjacent to the resort. Blatstein that year filed paperwork with the CRDA to subdivide the property into five new lots of record.

Blatstein ultimately folded on the casino concept in favor of building a $100 million waterpark on what was formerly outdoor beach volleyball courts. The amusement attraction is part of Blatstein’s effort to make the Boardwalk resort the go-to spot for families visiting the oceanfront casino town.

Along with the waterpark, the Showboat is home to the Lucky Snake Arcade, billed as the “Biggest Arcade in America.” The arcade, home to over 300 games and a go-kart racetrack, operates where the casino once did.

Waterpark Underperforming

Blatstein rumored to be mulling a casino could be in part because his Island Waterpark might not anytime soon deliver a return on his investment.

After opening last year around the July 4 holiday to much fanfare and high ticket prices — $89 per adult — the Showboat in October announced it was cutting rates in half and limiting operating hours for the amusement zone. The park is open only four days a week on Mondays and Fridays from 12 pm to 7 pm and on weekends from 11 am to 8 pm.

A 10th casino would presumably be unwelcomed by the current casinos, as the market is stabilizing post-pandemic. The nine casinos won $2.84 billion on their physical floors last year — a 2.2% year-over-year improvement. The 2023 revenue topped 2019 when the casinos won about $2.78 billion.



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