The projected closing date of November 13 for the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City has been postponed at least until December.
A bankruptcy judge’s decision last week to allow the casino owners, Trump Entertainment, to terminate contributions toward pensions and health care insurance for its union employees is part of the reason why the casino can continue entertaining gamblers. The Trump Taj Mahal would have closed on Nov. 13 had the judge ruled against the company.
Another reason for the delay is that Trump Entertainment is attempting to beat the odds and work out a deal with Carl Icahn to transfer ownership to the billionaire. Icahn’s holdings already include another Atlantic City casino –the Tropicana.
Icahn has promised to invest $100 million into the Trump Taj Mahal, but has requested $175 million in incentives from New Jersey to do so. Senate President Steve Sweeney has nixed that idea, tweeting recently that
any state grants, tax breaks, or subsidies will not be agreed to.
Sweeney appears a bit perturbed over the judge’s decision that severely cripples the benefits previously enjoyed by Trump Taj Mahal employees. He called it
unfair and un-American to allow billionaires like Icahn to exploit the financial difficulties of the casino industry to prey on workers.
December Closing Still Possible
While the delay in closing the Trump Taj Mahal is encouraging, the doors may yet be locked in December if a deal with Icahn cannot be negotiated. Trump CEO Robert Griffin told AP that
we need assistance from the state, which doesn’t look promising at this time.
The postponement at least until December means that a Nov. 28 concert featuring Culture Club with frontman Boy George can go on as scheduled at the casino. That also reportedly factored into the decision to keep the Trump Taj Mahal open beyond Nov. 13.
The Local 54 union that represents Trump Taj Mahal workers continues to raise a fuss over the judge’s ruling that cut benefits. Indications are that a protest in the form of picketing will commence outside of the casino on Friday.
Atlantic City has seen four casinos close this year, swelling New Jersey’s unemployment line by 8,000. Another 3,000 from the Taj may join them in December, putting a bigger hurt on the state’s economy.
Of course, New Jersey officials do not want to see a fifth casino closing in 2014. However, Icahn appears to be asking for too much in concessions in order to keep the doors open.
It may be up to Icahn to bend a little in order for the Trump Taj Mahal to remain a part of Atlantic City’s gaming industry. Perhaps a bit of flexibility on the part of state officials is needed as well to keep the number of casinos operating in New Jersey at eight.