Barden Takes Helm of Former Trump Riverboat

Don H. Barden, CEO of Barden Cos. Inc. (No. 8 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $372 million in sales) and the first African American to own a Las Vegas casino, expanded his portfolio recently by acquiring a riverboat casino and hotel in Gary, Indiana, from Donald Trump for $253 million.

Through subsidiary The Majestic Star Casino L.L.C., Barden announced that the 300-room hotel and casino, formerly called Trump Indiana, will now be called The Majestic Star II.

Barden projects that the company generated some $500 million by the end of 2005 as a result of the acquisition. He says the deal moves the company from the seventh-largest revenue generating casino in the state of Indiana to one of the top four.

The Majestic Star II sits adjacent to the original Majestic Star Casino, giving Barden no shortage of prime gaming property. “We now control over 300 acres of land [there], which creates an extraordinary development opportunity,” said Barden in a statement. “We are positioned to become the most competitive gaming operation in the Chicagoland market.”

The move gives Barden an edge over other gaming developers in the region, says John G. Brokopp, whose columns on the local gaming industry appear in The Chicago Sun-Times. “The fact that Mr. Barden now has control of that Gary venue is going to give him the opportunity to market it as strongly as he can and put his brand there, and that is going to create greater competition for the other properties to keep up with him.”

Barden’s move underscores a trend in which some African American hotel operators and developers are looking for ways to enhance their lodging properties with other assets such as entertainment venues, says Andy Ingraham, president of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers.