ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Big changes are in store for gamblers and hotel guests at the Tropicana Casino and Resort as the establishment starts a $25 million renovation project.
The undertaking is the first of what could be four or five years of work to re-do the casino resort, which opened in 1981.
Tropicana president Tony Rodio told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the casino's parent company, owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, was encouraged by state reforms affecting Atlantic City and by private investment by casino operators.
"It's a testament to our commitment to Atlantic City and to this property," he said. "We think this place has a lot of upside."
The renovation includes 16 floors of the casino-hotel's north tower, encompassing 437 rooms and suites. The work will start after Labor Day weekend and should be completed by the end of the year.
The project also includes the addition of 150 new slot machines at a cost of $4 million, the creation of a new Italian restaurant and a trattoria, and an expansion of Tango's Lounge with 30 additional seats and a larger dance floor. Those improvements are near the casino's new Boogie Nights '70s dance club.
The renovations are expected to create 25 to 30 permanent jobs, as well as more than 100 temporary construction jobs, many of those related to room renovations. The re-done rooms will get new furniture and carpeting, textured wall coverings and modernized bathrooms.
The work comes as other casinos also are reinvesting in their properties. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa recently finished a $50 million room renovation, and the Golden Nugget Atlantic City just completed a $150 overhaul of the entire property after buying what was known last year as Trump Marina Hotel Casino.
The upgrades come as the new $2.4 billion Revel casino prepares for its grand opening over Memorial Day weekend.
Rodio said the Tropicana renovations were planned more than a year ago.
"One of the mistakes this property has historically made was doing capital projects on an ad hoc basis without any long-term vision," he said.
Tropicana hopes to do a similar renovation project in each of the next four years, encompassing all four hotel towers and the rest of the property, although funding has only been committed for this year's work.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC