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Tropicana on the edge

The casino and resort firm is close to a deal with lenders that could save it from bankruptcy.

ATLANTIC CITY - Tropicana Casinos & Resorts is close to a deal with lenders that would prevent it from having to file for bankruptcy.

The deal, which could be approved by debt holders today, is designed to avoid harming Tropicana's casinos in other states, including Nevada. That is where regulators said this week they would scrutinize the company's operations in light of its having lost a license to operate the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City.

New Jersey's Casino Control Commission yesterday extended the authority of a former state Supreme Court Judge, Gary S. Stein, who has been overseeing the Tropicana as a trustee since the license denial a week ago.

Stein will now be trustee and conservator, and he will recommend a buyer for the Tropicana to the commission, which must approve it.

He said commission staff met yesterday morning with Tropicana attorneys, as well as agents for holders of the Tropicana's main debt, and worked out a deal under which the lenders would not demand immediate repayment of the loans - a move that Tropicana said could force it into bankruptcy.

"They've put in place proposals that they hope will be accepted [Thursday]," Stein said. "Everyone is interested in having this casino operate profitably and be attractive to potential buyers."

Paul O'Gara, a Tropicana attorney, also said he was optimistic a deal with lenders would be approved soon.