In New Jersey, proposed legislation that would alter the current licensing protocols for casinos in Atlantic City and disqualify any applicant that had “substantially closed” a property during the previous five years has made it over its first hurdle.
According to a report The Press Of Atlantic City newspaper, Senate Bill 2575 from New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney is thought to be aimed squarely at Carl Icahn after the billionaire businessman announced his intention to shutter the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort from October 10 as a result of an ongoing labor dispute.
The newspaper reported that the proposed legislation passed through the New Jersey State Senate’s Budget And Appropriations Committee on Monday and is now set to go before the full 40-member upper house for a full vote. It is being shadowed in the New Jersey General Assembly by the identical Assembly Bill 4187 from fellow Democratic lawmaker John Burzichelli and seeks to 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”.
“This bill encourages casino owners to keep their properties open and rebuild Atlantic City rather than keep their license and throw thousands of families to the curb,” Sweeney told The Press Of Atlantic City.
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 announced last month that he would be closing the 26-year-old venue and stands to lose approximately $100 million.
The shutdown would represent the fifth closing of an Atlantic City casino since 2014 but The Press Of Atlantic City suggested that Icahn may be “warehousing” his gambling license before reopening the venue in the future with a new labor force and name. To prevent this, Sweeney’s measure includes a provision that would make it effective from January 1, 2016, although would not apply to other casino licenses held by any owner.
“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,” Sweeney told The Press Of Atlantic City.