CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Nineteen would-be buyers of Atlantic City's former Revel Casino Hotel have expressed interest in acquiring the shuttered seaside gambling hall.
To them, Revel's lawyers had a simple response Thursday: Show us the money.
A federal bankruptcy court judge will decide Friday whether to approve its sale. Glenn Straub's Polo North Country Club has an $82 million deal to buy the casino from Revel AC. The casino cost $2.4 billion to build.
But even if Judge Gloria Burns sanctions the sale, the contract contains a loophole that allows Revel to accept a better offer if one comes along before the scheduled March 31 closing date.
At least two other would-be buyers have said they want to be considered: Los Angeles developer Izek Shomof and New York private equity investor Jeffrey Keating.
Ramy Ibrahim, senior vice president of Revel's investment bankers Moelis & Co., said Thursday that 19 parties had contacted the firm since last week, including seven new would-be bidders who had not previously been heard from. Of the seven, Ibrahim said, "None of them were able to validate who they were, who they were representing. In our opinion, at the end of the day, they were not real buyers."
Stuart Brown, an attorney for Revel's power plant, said he has spoken with five other potential buyers "that Moelis doesn't know about."
Thomas Kreller, an attorney for lender Wells Fargo, urged the judge to approve the one and only deal that involves actual money; Straub has put the entire $82 million purchase price in an escrow account.
"Right now, there is nothing else out there," he told the judge. "The $82 million is the bird in the hand. Quite frankly, there is nothing in the bush."
Revel attorney John Cunningham also urged the judge not to wait for potential offers from "illusory buyers" who thus far have refused to put up any money.
"We can't send this estate down the rabbit hole of no buyer, no purchaser, just a total train wreck," he said.
Kurt Wynne, an attorney for Shomof, said that scenario has already occurred. He asked the judge to leave the door open for his client, who he insisted remains interested in Revel.
"It already is a train wreck," Wynne said. "The only question is 'Can we put the fire out?'"
Shomof hadn't submitted a bit as of Thursday and did not respond to follow-up requests from Moelis, Ibrahim said.
Keating told The Associated Press he is putting together a private equity group to buy Revel, reopen it as a casino and add amenities, including amusement rides and a Ferris wheel.
Straub said he is the only one to put money on the table.
"I keep waiting for the elevator doors to open and somebody to walk out carrying bags of money," Straub told the AP before the hearing began. "We keep hearing about people with money wanting to make bids. I haven't seen them yet."
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC