Tropicana is upgrading to lure guests

ATLANTIC CITY - With potential buyers due to tour the place soon, the Tropicana Casino & Resort said yesterday that it would open a new slots area with an Old Havana theme.

The upgrade is designed to improve the Tropicana's flagging slots operation, which declined 15.7 percent last year.

But it is also part of the casino's plan to regain market share and create a buzz in a place that suffered from bad publicity and customer flight in 2007. That's when its former owners lost their casino license for poor service and cleanliness levels, and poor compliance with state casino regulations.

The Tropicana is for sale under the supervision of a state-appointed trustee.

Several expressions of interest were received by last week's deadline, although Gary Stein, the retired state Supreme Court justice overseeing the sale, would not say how many. He expects a sale to be completed by June.

The work on the new slots area started about two weeks ago and is due to be completed in late April or early May, said Chris Strano, vice president of sales and marketing for AC Coin & Slot, which will provide 166 new machines for the project.