The iconic Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City closed its doors on October 10 just as billionaire owner Carl Icahn had promised. The Trump Taj Mahal became the fifth casino in Atlantic City to wind up operations as the owners chose not to reach an agreement with the Local 54 Unite-HERE union which represented thousands of casino employees working at the Trump Taj Mahal.
The North Jersey referendum to move casinos outside of Atlantic City goes to vote in November and based on recent polls is highly unlikely to be approved by New Jersey votes. There have been suggestions that Icahn is waiting for the referendum to be finished before deciding on whether he will reopen the Trump Taj Mahal casino under a new name as based on current law in the garden state, Icahn still retain the rights to the casino license. Icahn initially wanted to invest $100 million and upgrade the 4.2 million square foot resort and could finally end up doing this under a new casino name.
Icahn could solve his problems with the Local 54 Unite Here Union by hiring a new set of employees who have no union affiliation for the new casino. While the Trump Taj Mahal management has not given any indication of a possible reopening, Senate President Steven Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland is one of those legislators who believe that Icahn could end up taking advantage of current laws to bust the Local 54 union.
Sweeney has introduced a new bill titled S-2575 that looks to amend the current law in the state and give the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) the authority to revoke the license of a closed casino. The bill which has already been approved by the Senate is now awaiting approval from the State Legislature. The new bill will prevent casino owners who shut down their casinos from retaining the rights to their casino license for a period of five years. Should the bill be approved, it will be retroactive from Jan 1, 2016, but would not impact any of the other casino licenses held by the owner.
In a statement, Sweeney said Casino owners “shouldn’t be able to misuse bankruptcy laws and gaming regulations in order to warehouse a license or take money out of the pockets of casino workers and strip them of benefits simply because they refuse to come to a labor agreement with their employees. This bill encourages casino owners to help rebuild Atlantic City rather than keep their license and throw thousands of families to the curb”.
Based on current law in the state, Icahn must surrender the Trump Taj Mahal casino license to the NJDGE but there is no deadline for him to do so. Trump Taj Mahal management pointed out that none of the four casinos that shut down in Atlantic City were reopened under a new name.