While 2014 was not a good year for Atlantic City considering four casinos closed their doors, the year will end without a fifth shutdown.
The Trump Taj Mahal had been set to close on December 20, but a deal worked out between parent company Trump Entertainment and real estate mogul Carl Icahn kept the doors open. Trump closed its other Atlantic City casino, Trump Entertainment, a few months ago.
A shot-in-the-arm of financing totaling $20 million from Icahn was a much-needed boost and could keep the casino operating for the entire calendar year of 2015, Reuters reported. The next hurdle to overcome is for a bankruptcy judge to sign off on the financing arrangement by January 9.
Trump attorneys informed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross that his approval could permit the Taj Mahal to make it through the winter, which are typically slow months in terms of visits from gamblers. As the weather warms up in spring and summer, so too does action on the casino floor. That added action provides an increase in revenue that could prolong the life of the Trump Taj Mahal.
The additional time could also lead to issues surrounding the casino to be resolved. Those issues include a battle between Icahn and casino workers who are tied to a union over their pension and health benefits.
Icahn had previously offered an investment of $100 million that would keep the Taj Mahal running in exchange for a tax relief package estimated at $175 million. The city balked at that offer and reports indicate that Icahn removed the proposal from consideration.
A debtor-in-possession hearing in a Delaware bankruptcy courtroom is scheduled for January 9. More details regarding the future of the Trump Taj Mahal will likely be known following that date.
In the meantime, 2014 will go down in Atlantic City history as one of turbulence and change. On the one hand, New Jersey’s regulated online poker and gambling regime operated for its first full calendar year. On the other hand, land-based gaming in the state went from a dozen operating casinos to only eight.
That online gaming market has not lived up to expectations, but those expectations were perhaps a bit unrealistic to begin with. Any new industry can expect some growing pains, and Internet gambling is no exception.
More change is anticipated next year when PokerStars receives approval from state gaming regulators to operate both poker and casino gaming sites. But we’ve heard that before, as approval was thought by many to be a mere formality following the sale of PokerStars to Amaya Gaming in August.
That approval has yet to come and may now be delayed even longer due to possible trading irregularities of Amaya stock just before the $4.9 billion purchase of PokerStars went down. Investigation into that matter is reportedly ongoing.