Sale of Tropicana Las Vegas Clears Last Hurdle

Penn National Gaming is officially the proud new owner of one of the most recognizable properties on the Strip.

Penn National Gaming Inc. received approval Thursday from the Nevada Gaming Commission for the company’s $360 million purchase of the Tropicana Las Vegas casino-hotel, Penn announced Thursday. Following earlier approvals in several other jurisdictions where Penn operates, this approval removes the last obstacle, and the company said it will complete the purchase tomorrow (Tuesday).

Penn, of Wyomissing, Pa., declined Commercial Property Executive’s request for additional information.

The seller is Onex Corp., which had acquired the property out of bankruptcy in 2009, as CPE reported in early May. Though Penn owns and operates 26 casinos and racetracks in 16 U.S. states and in Ontario, the Tropicana Las Vegas will be its first property on the Las Vegas Strip.

“The addition of Tropicana Las Vegas to our national portfolio of gaming assets is an … important milestone for Penn National as it fulfills our longstanding strategic objective to acquire the right resort at the right price on the Las Vegas Strip,” Timothy Wilmott, Penn’s CEO, said in a prepared statement. “After our disciplined search, we believe the iconic Tropicana Las Vegas will successfully address customer demand for a Strip property while enhancing our already strong competitive position in the local markets where we operate.”

The hotel, with nearly 1,500 guest rooms, and the 50,000-square-foot casino sit on 35 acres at Tropicana Boulevard and Las Vegas Boulevard, at the southern end of the Strip. The property also encompasses a sports book, three full-service restaurants, a food court, a 1,200-seat performance theater, the 300-seat Laugh Factory comedy club, more than 100,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space, and a five-acre tropical beach event area and spa.

Over the past four years, the casino-hotel has undergone better than $200 million of upgrades, including renovations of all of its guest rooms. That process was then capped by an upgrade and expansion of the property’s meeting space last year.

All of that will now be followed by Penn National’s two-phase investment plan. In the first phase, scheduled to occur over the next six to nine months, the company will invest about $20 million in “further facility improvements and integration activities.” These will include upgrading the property’s technology infrastructure to accommodate Penn National’s player loyalty program, Marquee Rewards.

The second phase could feature the addition of retail space, new food and beverage outlets, casino floor improvements, and potentially additional hotel rooms.