Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn may have had big plans last year for the Trump Taj Mahal Casino after purchasing the venue out of bankruptcy. However, decisions along the way would result in Icahn now deciding to surrender his casino license.
Icahn was approved by the courts to stop paying pension and health benefits to union workers of the venue, which resulted in a strike that ultimately saw the venue shut down this past October. Icahn was reportedly going to try to reopen this year with non-union employees, which prompted lawmakers to pass legislation that would stop Icahn from reopening due to casino licensing restrictions.
Now, Icahn plans on surrendering his casino license for the Trump Taj Mahal and make sure that no one else is able to use the property as a gaming venue if purchased. On Tuesday, gambling regulators of New Jersey revealed that the company owned by Icahn petitioned the state Division of Gaming Enforcement on the 22nd of December for permission to surrender the gaming license.
At the same time, the company filed a deed restriction in state Superior court that would prohibit any future buyer of the property from using the facility as a casino, unless a fee is paid. The amount of the fee was unspecified.
In the request to surrender the casino and liquor licenses, the Trump Taj Mahal Associates Company stated they are in compliance with the state requirements to secure unopened liquor, gambling equipment, and business records. Provisions were also made to pay any unclaimed casino winnings plus reducing the security staff to warehouse mode.
Since 2014, five casinos have shut down but the Taj was the only one to do so since that year. In 2014, the Showboat, Atlantic Club, Revel and Trump Plaza all shut down. At least three of the five casinos were operating at a profit or in positive recovery when they closed. Icahn’s other property in AC, the Tropicana, now has one less competitor.
After the Taj closed last October, legislators of the state decided to pass a bill that would punish the businessman for closing the venue. The bill would remove the casino gaming license of any operator who shut down a gaming venue in Atlantic City after January 2016. This meant the measure would only apply to Icahn. The bill has yet to be signed or vetoed by Governor Chris Christie, but can take effect without his signature.