New Gaming Bill in NJ Spells Trouble for Icahn and Trump Taj

by Kyle Miller

Carl IcahnNew bill pending in New Jersey Legislature could mess up Carl Icahn’s plans for now defunct Taj Mahal Casino.

The state of New Jersey now has only seven operating casinos, after the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal by Carl Icahn. Icahn is a businessman who purchased the gaming venue via bankruptcy court and had big plans to reopen the venue. The casino continued to operate as normal after Icahn took over but he was allowed to do away with health care and pension plans of employees in order to be able to bring the venue back to life. Of course, this was not what employees wanted to see take place and a strike soon took place. After months of negotiations and the strike continuing on, Icahn decided to close the venue. This may not have been the best decision, especially considering a bill that is currently pending in state legislature.

Icahn in Opposition of New Bill

Icahn shut down the Trump Taj Mahal on the 10th of October after slowing down operations in September. The businessman is unsure what to do with the property, with either selling it or reopening the space. However, his plans may soon change based on a new measure that is pending in state legislature. According to NJ.com, Icahn is opposed to the measure that would prevent casinos from reopening after closing. The bill takes away the casino gaming license of operators from the former casino property for a five year time frame. The bill is supposed to be voted on today.

Tony Rodio is an individual who operates the Tropicana casino, owned by Icahn, as well as the Taj Mahal Casino. Rodio has stated that he feels the bill was created to punish the businessman for closing the casino earlier their month. The measure is sponsored by Stephen Sweeney.

Rodio has called the measure unprecedented and unconstitutional since the target of the measure is Icahn. Rodio pointed out that the legislation will go into effect from the 1st of January 2016 which would only affect the owners of the Taj Mahal since it is the only casino gaming venue that closed this year. Rodio stated that punishing Icahn by revoking his ability to reopen the Taj or to make further investments in the area for five years is unconscionable due to his record of saving the Tropicana. Rodio also feels Icahn should not be restricted to keeping the venue and not being able to sell.

The businessman will not be able to further invest into Atlantic City, which would see the area lose out on jobs or revenue, according to Rodio. Other individuals may also be less likely to invest in the region if such a bill were to pass, according to the gaming operator.

Local Union Wants Rehire

At the same time, the Local 54 union would like to see employees rehired if the gaming venue were to reopen. Bob McDevitt is the President of the Local 54 who is now urging Icahn to promise that he will rehire the former employees of the casino if the venue were to reopen. McDevitt stated that the people of Atlantic City fought like hell back in 1976 to get casino gaming to come to the region because they wanted to see good middle-class jobs in the hospitality industry. McDevitt further stated that it is okay for billionaires to come into the region and get even richer from the industry but everyone should be able to benefit.

It was just last month that the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee approved a measure that would disqualify an applicant of a casino license for a five year time frame if they close a casino in the state. The bill will now be voted on in the Senate.