Legislation Could Block Trump Taj Mahal From Reopening

Posted By PlayNJ Staff on October 18, 2016

[toc]It’s only been about a week of the Trump Taj Mahal being out of business, but those who fought against the casino in a labor dispute are worried it could reopen next year without a union contract.

A measure on the table in Trenton would address the situation.

The Taj Mahal was open nearly three decades before closing in the early morning hours of Oct. 10, a day after its former owner competed in a presidential debate.

About 3,000 people lost their jobs.

Casino boss Carl Icahn, who also operates Tropicana Casino, decided to cut his losses on the property (about $100 million) that still bore Donald Trump’s name, after a bitter months-long fight with Atlantic City’s main casino workers union.

The property needed some upgrades, which has caused some to think Icahn could keep it closed during the winter and attempt to reboot in 2017.

The casino did reopen an upgraded poker room just a handful of months ago.

Bill could prevent Taj Mahal from reopening

Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney introduced the legislation, S2575, in late September, about two weeks before the casino closed.

It quickly passed out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee by a 12-0 vote.

Sen. Jim Whelan is also listed as a primary sponsor. Sen. Brian Stack is a co-sponsor.

Under the proposal, Icahn could lose his license for the Taj Mahal for five years thanks to closing it.

Just like in Nevada, having a casino license is a privilege and regulators hold operators to high standards. S2575 would add language to the regulations that make it so any “substantial closure” of a casino after Jan. 1, 2016 could result in license revocation.

“The bill empowers the Division of Gaming Enforcement to determine what constitutes a substantial closure of a casino hotel facility,” the SBA Committee said in a statement.

When shuttering a property comes during a labor dispute, there’s no license disqualification “if such applicant and a registered labor organization representing the casino hotel facility employees reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resume casino hotel facility operations during the five-year period.”

Basically, the DGE can reinstate the license if Icahn and the union reach a deal.

The labor dispute was over healthcare and pension benefits.

Could Icahn challenge the legislation in court?

A spokesperson for the billionaire investor declined to comment to the Associated Press about the plans for the property.

With Atlantic City likely to retain its New Jersey casino monopoly, could Icahn eventually see value in fighting to reopen the casino?

The legislation seems to address that possibility.

The bill has a “severability clause” that expresses “the intent of the legislature to preserve the remaining sections of the bill if one or more of its provisions are declared unconstitutional by the courts.”

[show-table name=cta-tropicana]

Bill wouldn’t affect casino formerly known as Revel

In September, Florida-based real estate developer Glenn Straub announced that the shuttered Revel casino will reopen next year as “TEN.”

He bought the $2.4 billion casino in April 2015 for just $82 million. Though he has flirted with walking away from the project, it appears that it will finally be back in business in as soon as a few months.

Straub has said that there won’t be gambling.

As mentioned, S2575 wouldn’t affect the four casinos that closed in 2014. Atlantic City had 12 casinos in 2013. Now it has seven.

Image credit: f11photo / Shutterstock.com

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