Tropicana Las Vegas Lives to See Another Day with Penn National Buyout Approval

Posted on: August 21, 2015, 10:34h. 

Last updated on: August 21, 2015, 10:45h.

Tropicana Penn Nationa buyout
The Tropicana will remain under its iconic brand name, now that Penn National has purchased the Las Vegas Strip property with the Gaming Commission’s blessing. (Image:

The Tropicana Las Vegas is off of life support and almost out of ICU, now that Penn National Gaming’s bid to acquire the iconic Sin City property has received official approbation.

Penn National, which already holds the debt paper on and runs the M Resort on the South Las Vegas Strip, has made no secret about its goal of buying property on the more central part of the Strip. That goal was officially achieved this week after the five-member Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved its $360 million acquisition of the Tropicana.

“The addition of Tropicana Las Vegas to our national portfolio of gaming assets is an exciting and important milestone,” Penn National CEO Timothy Wilmott  said. “It fulfills our longstanding strategic objective to acquire the right resort at the right price on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Once the purchase is completed on August 25th, the Tropicana will become the 27th casino operation Penn National owns or operates nationwide.

Best Buy

$360 million is chump change for a casino, of course, with Wilmott calling it a “very affordable” transaction. And the icing on the cake is that the 1,500-room hotel and 50,000-square-foot casino is in surprisingly good condition, as Wilmott also opined to the Gaming Commission.

The property has undergone more than $200 million in upgrades since 2011, and Penn revealed its own plans to invest another $20 million over the next year in further facility improvements, including integrating the company’s player loyalty program to entice regional gamblers to visit soon.

Winning Streak Continues

With its origins dating back to the early 1970s, when it owned just one horse racecourse in Grantville, Pennsylvania, Penn National changed direction in 2003 when it snagged the adjoining Hollywood Casino, immediately shifting the thoroughbred operator into a casino conglomerate.

During the last decade, Penn has acquired several additional gaming companies, and just narrowly missed out on buying Harrah’s. But as the operator continued gaining new footings in states around the country, the continued lingering goal of setting up shop in Sin City Central endured.

“Our regional gaming customers have long asked us to offer them an attractive destination on the Las Vegas Strip,” Wilmott said. “After our disciplined search, we believe the iconic Tropicana Las Vegas will successfully address customer demand.”

Although the upscale M Casino is technically on the Strip as well, it’s far south location has made it, in reality, more of a local’s attraction.

Tropicana Not Going Hollywood

Though Penn National typically changes the names of acquired casinos to fit its Hollywood brand, that won’t be the case for the iconic Tropicana. Wilmott said before the Gaming Commission hearing on Thursday that his company would continue the long history of the Tropicana.

According to Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, there was also some concern regarding confusion should the Tropicana have been renamed Hollywood with its neighbor to the north, Planet Hollywood, with only the MGM Grand separating the two casinos.

Keeping the Rat Pack-era venue named the Tropicana will presumably be welcomed by longtime Las Vegas residents and tourists alike, as the city has certainly been on a change streak in recent years, with the famed Riviera the latest to go bust.

And Penn National need not look far to learn that complete casino overhauls and rebrands, such as the financially catastrophic former Sahara-turned-SLS Las Vegas, is probably not a wise path to follow.