2 gamblers take NJ casino for more than $11M
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Lightning has struck twice at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, which has lost more than $11 million to just two high-stakes gamblers since April.
Just weeks after a blackjack player beat the casino for $5.8 million, a different gambler won $5.3 million last week.
Yet despite the huge losses, the Tropicana is sticking with its new emphasis on high-stakes table games play, confident that things will eventually run it its favor.
"That's just how it goes sometimes; if you bet more, you can win more," said Tony Rodio, the Tropicana's president and CEO. "We have a strategy of offering the most aggressive and highest table games limits in the Atlantic City market and we're not going to change that. If someone wants to take the shot, we'll take the action."
Lately it's the Tropicana that's been getting taken.
In April, Bensalem, Pa., gambler Don Johnson beat the casino for $5.8 million at blackjack, part of a spectacular roll that also saw him beat Caesars Atlantic City for more than $4.2 million and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa for $5 million. His winning story was first reported by The Press of Atlantic City.
Rodio would not identify last week's winner, citing the casino's policy to keep the identities of its players confidential. But he did say it was not Johnson.
Last Wednesday's winner hit big at the craps table, where he was betting $100,000 at a time. He also did well at blackjack and mini-baccarat, Rodio said.
The man left a $150,000 tip for dealers when he was done raking the casino; it was divided up among table games dealers on duty that night.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn bought the Tropicana out of bankruptcy last year, and has set about trying to regain business it lost under its previous owners, an affiliate of Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex Corp. A centerpiece of that strategy is trying to make up lost ground in a hurry by allowing high-stakes bettors to take their best shot against the casino at table games.
That approach had been serving the Trop well, until Johnson and last week's gambler came into town.
Rodio said the casino has the wherewithal to withstand even multimillion-dollar setbacks like those it recently experienced, adding no layoffs or cutbacks are expected as a result.
"There have been some players that we were big winners with," he said.
Rodio said Icahn planned to call Johnson and personally invite him back to the Tropicana to play again soon.
"Mr. Icahn is personally very supportive of this strategy, and he understands that there are fluctuations with it," he said.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC