Showboat Atlantic City hotel owner Bart Blatstein has asked New Jersey regulators to declare him eligible to operate a casino in the state, a possible first step toward bringing slots and table games back to the failed boardwalk gambling venue.

The Philadelphia-based developer petitioned the state Division of Gaming Enforcement for a "statement of compliance" demonstrating that he controls a property that could be used as a casino within 30 months, among other criteria, according to an emailed report from the agency on Tuesday.

The gaming enforcement agency investigates potential casino operators' eligibility for the compliance statement, which is ultimately issued by the state's Casino Control Commission. Applicants are responsible for unspecified costs connected to the investigation.

Potential casino operators must secure a statement of compliance before applying for a casino license.

Blatstein did not immediately respond to a message from the Inquirer asking about his plans for the property, which he purchased for $23 million in January 2016 from Stockton University after the school's plan to turn it into a residential Atlantic City campus for thousands of students foundered.

He told the Atlantic City Press Tuesday that he was applying for the compliance statement as a way of "keeping his options open" for the property, which he has been operating as a hotel without casino games since mid-2016.

The Showboat was among four of Atlantic City's 12 gaming venues to cease casino operations in 2014 as the spread of gambling in surrounding states decreased the number of visitors to the beach town.

Another of the properties that closed that year, the Revel, is expected to reopen as the Ocean Resort Casino this summer, around the same time that the Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in 2016, is scheduled to resume business as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.