Tropicana owner hires a Mr. Fix-It

Over the past year, the owner of the Tropicana casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City has alienated regulators and politicians, upset lenders and agitated labor unions and employees.

But last week’s appointment of Scott Butera as president of Tropicana Entertainment is the most dramatic sign yet the company is starting to patch up relationships with regulators and business associates while attempting to shore up performance at its casinos in Nevada and other states that have lost ground to competitors.

Butera leaves the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino, an under-construction megaresort on the Las Vegas Strip for which lenders are seeking a new buyer with more equity in the project, for Tropicana, the gaming subsidiary of hotel chain Columbia Sussex.

He previously served as chief operating officer of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, where he restructured the company out of bankruptcy.

Butera’s reputation as a Mr. Fix-It will be put to the test with Tropicana, which will be evaluating its properties over the next several months, determining which are worthy of additional reinvestment and which, if any, are better off in other hands. The company’s Tropicana casino in Atlantic City is moving through a forced sale process after New Jersey regulators denied the company a gaming license in December. And bondholders have sued the company, seeking immediate payment of loans Columbia Sussex used to acquire Aztar Corp. and its Tropicana casinos.