Judge Clears Sale of Shuttered Caesars Tunica Casino

CHICAGO—Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. secured a bankruptcy judge’s permission to sell its Harrah’s Tunica Hotel & Casino in Mississippi as part of its chapter 11 restructuring.

Judge A. Benjamin Goldgar of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago on Monday signed off on the shuttered casino’s sale, for $3 million, to TJM Properties.

In doing so, the judge took some issue with the company’s request for him to “approve” the sale, saying he “always has a problem” when presented with the wording that is routinely used in bankruptcy asset-sale motions.

“I can grant you the relief,” Judge Goldgar told Caesars’s attorneys. “But the notion that I approve of it in the sense that I think that this is great has always troubled me.”

Caesars canceled last week’s auction for the property after no rival bidders stepped forward to challenge TJM Properties’ offer. The buyer, which owns hotels and senior-living properties, acquired another closed casino, the Atlantic Club Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., for $13.5 million last year.

Before its closure in June 2014, Harrah’s Tunica featured a casino, several hotels, a recreational vehicle park, convention center and concert venue. It was also home to a Paula Deen’s Buffet and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill.

The casino opened in 1996 at a cost of $450 million, billed as the biggest gambling center between Atlantic City and Las Vegas. But it soon faced a glut of competitors that saw its business drop off, eventually leading Caesars to start shopping for a buyer a few years ago

Caesars, which is Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s largest operating subsidiary, filed for bankruptcy protection in January. It has filed a plan to restructure its debts and emerge from chapter 11, though significant hurdles—including bringing a group of unhappy creditors on board with its plan—remain before that plan can take effect.

 

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