Although presidential hopeful Donald Trump has been absent from Atlantic City for many years, his name has still glowed above the boardwalk. But this year, that neon light will go out forever.
In 1996, the Taj Mahal was purchased by Trump’s new publicly traded company, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. It continued to be the highest grossing casino in Atlantic City until the opening of The Borgata in 2003.
Then in 2014, Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy and announced its plans to close. At that time, about 1,000 employees of the resort signed a petition “to do everything possible” to keep the casino open, but it looked like despite their efforts the casino’s life was coming to an end.
Trump Entertainment Resorts approved the shutdown by December 20th, 2014, but then, just two days before the scheduled closure, UNITE HERE, its main union, reached a deal with Trump Entertainment Resorts and saved the property from going under. The same day, billionaire Carl Icahn committed $20 million in financing for the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal never directly operated an online gambling website in New Jersey, although the operator did have a partnership with a separate online casino and online poker brand.
The Icahn era proves itself more of the same
Business continued as usual until February of 2015 when the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network settled an investigation of Trump Taj Mahal and fined the company $10 million for “significant and long-standing money laundering violations” which were described as “willful and repeated.”
As part of the agreement, the casino agreed to periodic external audits and admitted to multiple violations dating back to 1998.
In February of this year, Trump Entertainment exited bankruptcy and became a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises. Although it kept the name “Trump Taj Mahal,” Donald Trump no longer held any ownership stake in the company.
Shortly after the takeover by Icahn Enterprises, the management of the casino was turned over to another Icahn affiliate, Tropicana Entertainment.
On August 3rd, 2016, Icahn announced that he could no longer support the casino which had cost him nearly $100 million in the past 18 months due to a crippling strike. It was announced that the Trump Taj Mahal would finally close its doors on October 10th, 2016.
“Mr. Trump made a tremendous amount of money in Atlantic City during its prime,” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump’s presidential campaign, said, in an attempt to distance Trump from the casino’s failure. “He has not been involved for seven years, with many people giving him great credit for his timing and success.”
This shutdown will reduce the number of Atlantic City casinos to seven and 3,000 workers will join the ranks of the unemployed.