Trump Still Owes Atlantic City Money for Trump Taj Mahal Casino

Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic CityThese days, there’s a lot of talk about Trump’s divisiveness and strategy within the White House. But there’s barely any mention of his unpaid bills as an Atlantic City casino magnate.

Trump obviously faces far more pressing issues now, including his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. So it’s highly unlikely that he will mention his unpaid bills from Atlantic City when he takes the stage Tuesday night at the Wildwoods Convention Center.

Former Workers Feel the Sting

As for the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, window installers and other contractors who built Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City three decades ago, the wounds from not being paid still fester.

“It’s terrible,” said Jenkins, who runs Triad Building Specialties. “I can’t stand Trump. I think he’s nothing but a snake oil salesman.”

Triad Building Specialties begn in the mid-1970s by Jenkins’ father. Jenkins was only 19 when he got the $300,000 contract to provide guardrails, doors, stalls, and paper dispensers for the nearly 300 public bathrooms at the Trump Taj Mahal casino overlooking the Atlantic City beachfront.

A Casino Built on Financial Sand

In Atlantic City, Trump bragged that the Taj Mahal — which he claimed had a price tag of $1.2 billion — was the “eighth wonder of the world.” Not only was it considered the largest casino anywhere, it was adorned with crystal chandeliers from Austria, hand-sewn carpets from Britain, Carrara marble from Italy and 70 onion domes that towered over the Atlantic City boardwalk.

But the Taj, as it came to be called, seems to have been built on financial sand.

What Trump didn’t say was that he financed the Taj with $700m worth of junk bonds. And what he did not tell the scores of contractors who worked on the overly lavish casino was that he could not pay their bills.

Triad Building Specialties ended up taking out a $40,000 loan just to pay its suppliers. And then the firm needed another decade just to pay off the loan. By the end of it, Triad had only received 40 cents on the dollar from Trump for its work on the Taj. Jenkins is now 49 years old and is the firm’s co-owner.

To be successful, it meant the Taj had to come up with $94m a year just to pay off its debts, and $1m a day to be profitable. Trump insisted the casino would make Atlantic City great again, returning the area to its prohibition-era glory days.

At one point in time, President Trump actually owned three casinos in Atlantic City. He employed nearly 8,000 citizens and accounted for nearly one-third of the Atlantic City area’s revenue.

But they eventually became unsustainable thanks to a mixture of enormous debts, rival venues, weak local demand, and negative press, which suggested Trump’s businesses were facilitating money laundering. This is something was later given credence when the Taj was fined $10 million for failing to report suspicious transactions.