Icahn to close Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City
By Hilary Russ (Reuters) – Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal casino, owned by Carl Icahn, will close at the end of the summer, the billionaire investor’s company <IEP.O> said on Wednesday.
Closure of the casino, which is in the midst of a strike by its unionized workers over wages and health insurance costs, would be another blow to the struggling New Jersey beach resort. Four of its 12 casinos remain shut after closing in 2014, though one of them reopened as a hotel only. “Currently the Taj is losing multimillions a month, and now with this strike, we see no path to profitability,” Tony Rodio, chief executive of Tropicana Entertainment Inc <TPCA.PK>, said in a statement. The board of the Taj and Icahn Enterprises “cannot just allow the Taj to continue burning through tens of millions of dollars when the union has single handedly blocked any path to profitability.” said Rodio, whose company is controlled by Icahn. He said the company intends to send required layoff notices to workers before this weekend, adding that Icahn’s company has lost nearly $100 million “trying to save the Taj.” The casino was once owned by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who lost his stake in it during its bankruptcy. Bob McDevitt, president of Unite Here Local 54, which represents about 1,100 workers at the casino who will lose their jobs, called the closure “petty” and an attempt to break their labor strike. “The great dealmaker would rather burn the Trump Taj Mahal down just so he can control the ashes,” McDevitt said in a statement. “In the end he’ll have to live with what he’s done to working people in Atlantic City,” he said. “The Boardwalk is littered with empty monuments to his greed.” Atlantic City, once the U.S. East Coast’s only casino gambling site, is struggling to pay its bills and has until November to devise a fiscal recovery plan or else face possible state takeover. Its property tax base eroded when its gambling industry lost value because competing casinos began opening in neighboring states. Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said in a statement that it is “unfortunate and disappointing” that no resolution has been found to keep the Taj Mahal open. “Atlantic City has been resilient for over 160 years and we will continue to do so, as we rise to meet any challenge ahead of us,” Guardian said. (Reporting by Hilary Russ; Additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Grant McCool and Steve Orlofsky)