Atlantic City casinos are among some of the most famous in the western hemisphere. The last few years have been tumultuous though, with a third of the Garden State’s properties having closed in 2014. Now, with just 8 remaining, another is about to close it’s doors.
The Trump Taj Mahal has been an icon of New Jersey’s gambling shoreline since it first opened in 1990 under the guiding hand of now-Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Yesterday, Carl Icahn, who recently acquired the Atlantic City casino in February, has announced that he’s done pouring funds into a proverbial money pit.
The Trump Taj Mahal will officially close its doors in September, following the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The revitalization of the casino has been a steep, uphill climb for Icahn, a business magnate, investment tycoon and philanthropist out of Philadelphia. He poured millions into the business over the last 18 months – even before he owned it – eventually rescuing the casino from bankruptcy by assuming its considerable debt (at a discounted price, of course).
Union Quarrel with Atlantic City Casinos
But amidst the lofty endeavors of Icahn Enterprises, there was another issue permeating below the surface. The Trump Taj Mahal, like most other Atlantic City Casinos, was fighting another battle with it’s employees, who had already lost the majority of their benefits as the Garden State’s gambling industry struggled to stay afloat.
Photo Mel Evans / AP
Unite-HERE’s Local 54 was busy negotiating new pension and health care packages for their casino employees, and while most of the casino owners were willing to talk, Trump Taj Mahal refused to offer anything even remotely similar to what the workers wanted.
On July 1, 2016, employees of Trump Taj Mahal went on strike, and are still picketing outside the Atlantic City casino. As of this morning, Thursday, August 4, 2016, the strike against the casino has reached a significant milestone, becoming the longest running strike against an Atlantic City Casino since the first gambling establishment opened its doors 38 years ago.
On Wednesday, Icahn announced his intentions to close the Trump Taj Mahal, telling The Associated Press he’d already lost nearly $100 million on the failed investment. “It was a bad bet,” he surmised. “How much good money do you throw after bad?”
Strike Played Key Role In Closure
Following the acquisition earlier this year, Icahn passed the management reigns over to Tropicana Entertainment, who’s president, Tony Rodio, told the press that the strike had a great deal to do with the decision to close the property.
“Our directors cannot just allow the Taj to continue burning through tens of millions of dollars when the union has singlehandedly blocked any path to profitability,” said Rodio.
5 Down, How Many More to Go?
The closure will see the ‘Trump‘ name removed from the sizable property and approximately 3,000 workers heading to the unemployment lines – that added to the 8,000 who lost their jobs when four other casinos closed in 2014.
It’s worth noting that Donald Trump has had nothing to do with the business since 2009, outside of being a 10% shareholder (in exchange for his name remaining on the signage), which he gave up to Icahn in February.
This will mark the fifth Atlantic City Casino to shut down in the last two years, leaving just seven in operation. And if an upcoming voter referendum is approved by the public, there may be even more closures on the horizon.
In November, voters will decide if – for the first time in the state’s history – casinos should be permitted outside of Atlantic City. If approved, two new gambling resorts will appear in North New Jersey, destined for prime real estate just outside of New York City.