In New Jersey, proposed legislation that would alter the current licensing protocols for casinos in Atlantic City and disqualify for five years any applicant that had “substantially closed” a property has passed through the New Jersey State Senate.
According to a report from The Associated Press news service, Senate Bill 2575 from New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney is aimed squarely at punishing Carl Icahn after the billionaire businessman controversially shut the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort earlier this month due to an ongoing labor dispute.
The proposed legislation passed through the New Jersey State Senate’s Budget And Appropriations Committee late last month and is being shadowed in the New Jersey General Assembly by the identical Assembly Bill 4187 from fellow Democratic lawmaker John Burzichelli. Both measures, if signed into law by Republican governor Chris Christie, would amend existing laws and update standards in order to allow the eastern state’s Division Of Gaming Enforcement to define “substantially closed” and “prevent the manipulation of bankruptcy law and gaming licensing”.
Icahn gained control of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort last year after purchasing previous operator Trump Entertainment Resorts Incorporated and immediately became engaged in a battle with the local chapter of the UNITE HERE union over health care, pension and wage issues. After failing to reach an agreement with the around 1,000 employees affiliated with the trade union, the former stockbroker closed the 26-year-old venue on October 10, which is a move that could reportedly cost him approximately $100 million.
Sweeney revealed that his legislation would additionally prevent 80-year-old Icahn from sitting on the license of a closed casino indefinitely.
“Casino owners shouldn’t be manipulating the system and exploiting bankruptcy laws as a way to break unions and take away the rights and benefits of the workers,” said Sweeney. “Atlantic City’s gaming industry is obviously experiencing the difficult challenges of competition from other states but the answer is not to engage in practices that punish the workers.”
However, Tony Rodio, President for Tropicana Entertainment Incorporated and the man who ran Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort for Icahn, has declared that the legislation would scare away future investment in Atlantic City.
“I don’t see any reason for anyone to want to invest in the casino industry in Atlantic City given this adversarial investment climate being created by some leaders of our state legislature, the same ones who are supporting the north Jersey gaming referendum that will certainly result in the closure of many more Atlantic City casinos and future disqualification of their present owners under this bad legislation,” said Rodio. “It also raises serious questions why anyone would want to invest in the state of New Jersey at all if the state legislature moves forward with this business, job and growth-killing legislation.”