Taj Mahal Closure Legislation Vetoed by Governor Christie

by Jim Hall

Governor Chris ChristieLegislation affecting the now defunct Trump Taj Mahal has been vetoed by Governor Chris Christie.

Legislation is often created in states across the US that will either benefit or negatively affect the gaming industry. Many states currently have issues on the table concerning gaming including the state of New Jersey. A few months ago, a bill was introduced in the state that would stop any operator of a gaming venue from being able to use an existing casino license for a five year time frame if the casino shut down beginning in January of 2016. The measure would only affect businessman Carl Icahn as he is the only operator to have shut down a gaming venue last year.

What’s Going On?

Icahn felt the bill was unfair from the very beginning but would have to wait and see if the measure would be signed into law due to it passing through the Senate. Apparently, Governor Chris Christie felt the same and decided to veto the legislation during a review of several bills. Yesterday, Christie decided to sign fourteen bills into law but left five on the veto side of the table. Included in the vetoed bills was the one that affected Icahn’s business.

Icahn first acquired the Taj Mahal Casino in 2014 after the owners had to file for bankruptcy. Over time, Icahn tried to bring the venue back to its former glory but to no avail. He actually stopped paying health insurance and pension plans for employees due to an agreement when he purchased the property which led to a strike of employees in 2016.

Employees were on strike for several months until October arrived and Icahn decided to shut down the gaming venue. Neither side could come to negotiations agreements as to what should happen with health and pension plans so Icahn just decided to close the casino. The workers of the venue felt that Icahn had plans to reopen this year with a non-union workforce so this reportedly prompted lawmakers to create the bill which passed back in December.

Christie Not Happy with the Casino Closure Bill

Christie was not happy with the bill on the casino closures and issued a letter yesterday to lawmakers which said that the measure actually represented legislature at its worst. Legislators were accused of making a transparent attempt to punish Icahn for choosing to close the casino after union employees had went on strike and would not negotiate in good faith.

The governor continued to bash the bill stating that it would scare off potential business investments in Atlantic City since the message sent by legislators is that businesses have to play ball with the unions or they will face retribution from the lawmakers.

Lawmakers have yet to respond to the veto or to Christie’s comments on the matter. The governor has always been somewhat of an anti-union supporter plus he is in Donald Trump’s good graces, who is a close friend to Icahn. Christie even campaigned for Trump last year, so it seems he was deciding in part due to his close ties to the two.

On a side note, the measure was actually approved by a veto-proof margin which means that the Assembly and Senate have the right to nullify the veto if they so choose. The bill simply has to be brought up for a second vote.

Icahn now has plans to sell the Trump Taj Mahal after stating that the approval of the bill by legislators was the last straw. On the website of Icahn, it states that the businessman is convinced that other large investors will have no interest in investing significant amounts of money in Atlantic City as long as Stephen Sweeney is controlling the Senate.