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Deal nets Toll opportunity to seek AC casino

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Could there be another new casino in Atlantic City's future?

BET Investments, a company owned by luxury home developer Bruce Toll, has paid $5.5 million to Trump Entertainment Resorts to get rid of a deed restriction on land it owns near the

Boardwalk. The restriction had prevented Toll from using the land for casino gambling, according to Trump CEO Bob Griffin.

Griffin said Wednesday his company concluded the deal with Toll within the last few weeks, selling the developer the right to pursue casino gambling on the site. The land once held the Playboy casino, which later became the Trump World's Fair casino and was demolished in 2000.

"Toll has owned that land for years, but in all that time they were not allowed to conduct gambling activities on it," Griffin said. "We lifted that restriction for $5.5 million. They could now technically apply to conduct gaming on that site."

Toll outbid Donald Trump for the 2.5-acre site in 2005 and envisioned a 431-apartment luxury apartment project there called The Pacific Towers. The land is located between Florida and Bellevue avenues, near Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and Boardwalk Hall.

A spokeswoman for Toll Brothers, the Horsham, Pa.-based real estate company he co-founded, said he was not immediately available for comment. She also was unable to immediately say whether Toll might try building a casino there or instead try to sell the property to others now that its value has increased. A BET Investments manager for the proposed project did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Casino Control Commission said no one has approached it regarding plans for the site.

Toll has a long history in Atlantic City. At one point, he was a co-owner of Million Dollar Pier. His father owned the Howard Johnson's Atlantic City, which stood where Caesar's Atlantic City is now.

Donald Trump once proposed building a 62-story, 4,600-room hotel and casino on the site. But in 2005, when the corporate predecessor to Trump Entertainment Resorts entered bankruptcy protection for the second time, he agreed to auction off the land and give the proceeds, plus $17.5 million in cash, to his creditors.

Trump sought to retain the property at the auction, but lost out to Toll, who barely outbid him. Toll bought the land for $25.15 million. Trump had bid $25 million.


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