Legislation has been approved that will keep Carl Icahn from reopening the Trump Taj Mahal for some time after it closed this past October.
On Monday, a vote took place within the New Jersey Assembly in which legislators decided that a new bill would be approved to create a five year gaming license suspension on any owner of a casino who closed a venue in Atlantic City after January 2016. This will affect Carl Icahn who purchased the Trump Taj Mahal earlier this year and then shut the venue down after employees would not go off strike and make a deal due to health and pension losses. The terms of the bill seemingly target Icahn specifically based on his closure of the venue and not coming to an agreement with the Local 54 union of Unite HERE.
The New Bill and What It Means
The Assembly voted 60 to 17 in favor of the measure with Assemblyman John Burzichelli stated that the measure was designed to be a carrot, not a stick, by encouraging operators of casinos to remain open. Steve Sweeney, the President of the Senate, created the bill and stated that it was designed to prevent casino owners from sitting on a license after their property was closed. The suspension of five years for casino licensing would be removed if the owner is able to reach a deal with the unionized work force of the property.
Once the Taj closed, officials of the union began shouting that Icahn had plans to reopen the Taj the following spring with a workforce that was nonunion. This information pushed the state senate to create the bill and pass it by a vote of 29 to 6. This would put the Taj in line with the bill but not the four casinos that closed in Atlantic City back in 2014.
Icahn is not happy with the passage of the bill into law and insists that the new legislation goes against the constitution. He believes this because the bill only applies to him and ties his hands when it comes to making more investments into the market of Atlantic City for the next five years. Icahn is also the operator of the Tropicana Resort and Casino which is one of the only remaining casinos in the city.
The measure must now be signed by Chris Christie, the governor of the state. Christie has close ties with the president-elect Donald Trump who is in turn, close to Icahn. Christie may choose to veto the bill. If he does, the veto could be overridden due to the fact that the bill was approved by the majority in both chambers of legislation. It may be that legislators want to send a strong message to other operators that they mean business when it comes to breaking up union employment.
If Christie were to sign the bill into law, or even if the chambers take matters into their own hands after a veto, the bill should become law. This means that Icahn will not be able to do anything for a five year time frame. While Icahn sees this as unfair, many see this as justification as he took away pension and health care benefits for employees of the venue after taking ownership from bankruptcy court.
Icahn asked the court to allow for pension and healthcare to be removed as he needed funds to revitalize the gaming venue. This plan has seemingly backfired as he is stuck with the property and unable to do anything over the next few years due to the October closure.