[toc]Rumors were swirling billionaire investor Carl Icahn was interested in selling the shuttered Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City.
Icahn has come out and emphatically denied the idea. He has no plans for Taj Mahal’s immediate future except to keep it closed.
Icahn may turn the Taj into something besides a casino
Icahn told the Associated Press he is content to sit on the property for the time being. Moreover, if he does sell, he is taking steps to ensure the new owners cannot operate a casino on the property.
Icahn says he plans on relinquishing the gaming license for the property. He petitioned the state gaming board to let him surrender the license on Dec. 22.
The company also filed a deed restriction with the state. Any new owners who wanted to operate the New Jersey casino would be required to pay the company a substantial additional fee.
Taj Mahal closed its doors on Oct. 10 after several months of contentious negotiations and a strike from members of the local union, UNITE HERE.
New labor law aimed directly at Icahn
Any chance Icahn would reopen the property was greatly diminished after the state legislature passed a law forcing any casino which closed for any period of time after Jan. 2016 would lose its gaming license for five years.
Icahn and the Taj Mahal are the only parties affected by the law.
Icahn called the move a “war with business” and suggested the hostile state government is part of the reason Atlantic City casinos have been struggling the past few years.
“When a guy like Sweeney goes after someone who saved the Tropicana and 3,000 jobs when no one else would, who would invest in New Jersey?
The worst thing about New Jersey is they have Sweeney as head of the Senate. The best thing about New Jersey is they didn’t make him governor.”
Icahn also owns the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City. That property is currently operational.
Development projects in AC are struggling
Patience is a virtue Icahn will need if he intends to develop and sell the Taj as something besides a casino. Several non-gaming projects in Atlantic City are struggling in recent months.
Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump, recently drew criticism for his involvement in the Garwood Hills development project.
Kushner’s real estate company has owned seven acres of waterfront real estate in the city since 2004. The company promised a $175 million condominium development. A downturn in the New Jersey economy resulted in the project stalling.
In 2009, the city lost its authority to reclaim the land. As long as the economy continues to struggle, Kushner’s company is under no obligation to build or sell.
Throw in the closing of several casinos and the general failure of the attempt to launch the $2.4 billion Revel Casino only to have it close five months later and it becomes clear the struggles in the seaside town are real.
The lone bright spot is the reduced casino competition has seen the seven operating casinos in the city bounce back a bit in recent months.
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