Billionaire Carol Icahn, who had earlier committed to closing down the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic city after the Labor day weekend, has now filed the required notices with the State Department of Labor and confirmed the scheduled closing date as October 10, 2016. The closure was due to the Trump Taj Mahal continuing to lose millions each month and an ongoing strike with the Local 54 chapter of the Unite-Here union.
The casino will be closing at a critical period of time for the New Jersey gaming industry as voters are scheduled to cast their vote and decide on a referendum that seeks to remove Atlantic City’s monopoly over the casino industry and introduce two new casinos in North Jersey. Those in favor of the referendum believe that the two North Jersey casinos will prevent New Jersey gamblers from going out of state and reduce gambling revenue from leaving the garden state.
The No North Jersey Casinos Coalition thinks otherwise and believes that Atlantic City’s struggling casino industry could be hurt significantly if North Jersey is allowed to host casinos. Atlantic City was once home to twelve casinos but with the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal casino, there will only be seven gaming venues remaining. A study commissioned by the No North Jersey Casinos Coalition that the two North Jersey casinos will further impact casinos in Atlantic City and threaten the existence of atleast three more casinos. The study also states that if three more casinos should shutdown, Atlantic City could end up losing upto 30,000 direct or indirect jobs.
Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural believes the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal casino is further proof that the casino industry in Atlantic City is in disarray and hence vital for the North Jersey referendum to be approved as the two new casinos would generate $200 million each year to help rebuild Atlantic City.
In a statement, Sen. Paul Sarlo who represents the Meadowlands district, said “The pending closure of the Trump Taj Mahal should serve as a wake-up call for Atlantic City officials to take advantage of the benefits of casino expansion. Expanding New Jersey’s gaming sector to North Jersey will provide financial resources so that Atlantic City can invest in economic expansion. The city has the opportunity and the ability to become a destination resort that doesn’t rely on casinos alone.”
Moody’s Investors Service believes that the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal casino could initially be beneficial to the Tropicana, Caesars and Bally’s as they will most likely absorb both gambling and non-gambling revenue from Taj Mahal patrons. However this additional revenue will only be short term as the Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia which is just 60 miles away is expanding its facilities. Philadelphia is also likely to open another casino in 2018 and should the two North Jersey casinos be approved, Atlantic City casinos will face strong competition.