Gary casino aims to end partnership with Trump - Monday 23rd of January 2006

A nine-year-old partnership that allowed the Majestic Star and Trump casinos to share an entrance pavilion along Lake Michigan might be over after negotiations ended between the owners of the neighboring riverboats.

The two casinos have seen little growth in admissions in recent years, and the CEO of the Majestic Stars owner said the bankrupt Trump Hotels company has invested little in the partnership.

I just withdrew an offer to purchase the Trump casino, Donald Barden, Majestic Star LLC president and chief executive officer, told the Times of Munster. Im going to explore another alternative with respect to reconfiguring the layout.

Since 1996, the two boats have shared a 70,000-square-foot entrance pavilion along Lake Michigan that houses ticketing and boarding services, bars, lounges and restaurants.

Scott Butera, president and chief executive officer for Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, declined to comment Tuesday on the negotiations or the impact of a potential Majestic Star move.

Weve had a successful experience at that site and we feel that would continue, Butera said.

Barden said Trump was asking too much but declined to specify how much the deal would have cost.

Now, Barden said he might move his vessel to the eastern side of the entrance dock and build a new pavilion, parking garage and entrance way to increase the riverboats financial performance.

Upgrades to the Trump riverboat stalled after the casinos parent company filed for bankruptcy late last year.

Ernest Yelton, executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, said Trump riverboat owes the state about $18 million in back taxes, and that the money will be paid in full next month.

Yelton said the Gaming Commission must approve the proposed changes to the Majestic Star, but so far no paperwork has been filed with the state.

I think its premature for us to give any assessment on an economic impact (of the change), he said.

Trump is planning to add $4.5 million in new slot machines, the Times reported in Tuesdays newspaper.

The standing relationship between the boats has weakened by a lack of capital investment from Trump, Barden said.

It inhibits what youre able to do, he said.

Barden said he hasnt been contacted by Donald Trump since negotiations ended.

If he wants to sell were no longer interested, Barden said. Not now. Maybe a couple of years from now.

Majestic Star and Trump each had 1.5 million admissions for the year through April about 6.8 percent of admissions for the states 11 riverboats, according to data from the Indiana Gaming Commission.

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