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Owners of Tropicana appeal

ATLANTIC CITY — Claiming to be a different company with better management, the former owners of the Tropicana Casino and Resort formally requested Thursday that New Jersey casino regulators return control of the property to them.

The petition to the state Casino Control Commission is but one part of a battle Tropicana Entertainment LLC is waging to regain control of the casino, which was stripped from them last December.

“Tropicana is a brand new company,” said Bradford Smith, a Tropicana board member and former chairman of the Casino Control Commission.

“We have a new, independent board. We have a new team of experienced professional gaming executives managing our operations. Most important, we live by a set of business and operating philosophies that are in keeping with the best practices of a modern day gaming enterprise,” Smith said.

The commission found last year that affiliates of Crestview Hills, Ky.-based Columbia Sussex Corp. cut nearly 1,000 jobs at the Tropicana that led to problems with cleanliness, service and compliance with state gambling regulations.

They particularly faulted the company’s owner, William Yung III, and appointed a retired state Supreme Court Justice, Gary Stein, as conservator and trustee to oversee the Tropicana until the property can be sold.

While Yung remains its owner, he has resigned from Tropicana board, and subsequently signed away his right to control the company in any fashion.

“Yung has no authority and will continue to have no authority over any of the company’s affairs,” Tropicana Entertainment wrote in its petition. “The company has been utterly and completely reformed.”

Dan Heneghan, a spokesman for the casino commission, said the petition will be reviewed and a scheduled for a hearing at a future commission meeting. No date has yet been set.

The casino and hotel have remained open throughout the process, even as revenues plunge due in part to difficult economic conditions and competition from slots parlors in other states.

The downturn has affected all of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos.

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