Trump’s revenge; Larry Flynt, casino boss

Why is Trump Plaza the whitest elephant among Atlantic City casinos? (Scroll to bottom) Because its operating costs include a $1 million ground lease to former American Jewish Congress head Robert Lifton, who owns the underlying acreage. This little poison pill was put in place by Donald Trump when he owned the Plaza. Incredibly enough, Carl Icahn prevented Trump Entertainment Resorts from selling the Plaza for $20 million, unrealistically thinking it could bring more. Now he can’t give the Plaza away: Hard Rock International didn’t want it, thanks to the ground lease. Icahn is trying to lower his Atlantic City profile before Democrats gain control of the governor’s mansion. However, he can thank his friend Donald — and his own cupidity — for lumbering him with the Plaza, which now seems certain for demolition.

* In an almost meaningless gesture, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment casinos will dim their exterior lighting for an hour on Saturday. What’s more concrete — and commendable — is MGM’s replacement of 1.3 million light bulbs throughout its empire with energy-efficient LEDs. That’s change in which (some of us) can believe.

* A different kind of house edge:

* Larry Flynt continues to reinvent himself as a casino mogul. The Hustler publisher has taken over the failing Normandie card room in Gardena, California, and rebranded it as Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino, complete with a neon naked woman. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Flynt has upgraded the 50,000-square-foot casino with a new paint job, fresh carpeting, chandeliers, furniture and flat-screen television sets. The casino added a new smoking area and remodeled its restaurant.” One player told the LAT, “This is 100% better. Before, it was all dark.”

Flynt’s not stopping there. He’s planning a $60 million commercial complex on the surrounding acreage, a development that may help make him — dare we say it? — respectable. He even fended off a lawsuit from Isle of Capri Casinos, which owns the “Lady Luck” brand. Gardena benefits from Flynt’s largesse: His gaming revenue is taxed at 12% but, if he grosses over $2 million, he qualifies for a convoluted rebate. Flynt doesn’t care for the arrangement but he’s grudgingly living with it. Owner of two card rooms, Flynt says this is the extent of his gaming aspirations but we wouldn’t bet against further enlargement of his holdings.

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