It's being referred to as "Resorts' last resort," and no matter how you slice it, it can't bode well for AyCee's oldest legal gambling den.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Colony Capital LLC, owner of the beleaguered uptown property, has agreed to let the casino be taken over by Column Financial Inc., the commercial real estate lending arm of Credit Suisse. This deal was cut because Resorts, which has been hit particularly hard by the ongoing downturn in Atlantic City, hasn't made a payment on its $360 million loan since last fall.
I'm just sayin', but is there a worse owner for a casino than a bank? Sure, Colony will still have a management contract to run Resorts. But it will, we can assume, ultimately have to answer to the bean-counters at Column Financial--who can't be particularly well-suited to knowing what is best for a casino and its patrons.
The gaming industry was forged by high-rolling mavericks like the late Bill Harrah and Benny Binion--seat-of-the-pants guys who were anathema to the kind of tight-coloned MBAs who will have the final say. That sound you hear is bill and benny spinning in their graves. Unless the Earth begins to rotate clockwise and pigs do indeed begin to fly, it's hard to imagine the Column Financial crew will have the imagination, not to mention the willingness to spend money, that it will take to rescue Resorts.
Which means there's a distinct danger Resorts will ultimately be destroyed by those charged with saving it.
I sincerely hope I'm proved to be wrong, but I can't shake the feeling a bank running a casino is like the Taliban running a strip club.