Posts Tagged ‘City’s’

Carl Icahn in Talks to Sell Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal

 Carl Icahn in Talks to Sell Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal

According to the New York Post, Carl Icahn, whose Icahn Enterprises owns the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, is in discussions with other casino operators to sell the property. The former center of east coast poker closed on October 10th.

Aside from making money, one of the reasons Icahn is looking to make a deal may be because he might not be allowed to re-open the casino for five years. Less than two weeks after the Taj Mahal closed, the New Jersey Senate passed S2575 by a 29 to 6 vote, an amendment which would add a reason why someone could be disqualified from holding a casino license. In this case, it would disqualify a licensee who closed a casino. Specifically, the amendment reads:

Notwithstanding the provisions of any law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, the substantial closure of a casino hotel facility by the licensee occurring on or after January 1, 2016 shall disqualify the licensee from continuing to hold that license and shall constitute sufficient cause for revocation of that license, except that such substantial closure shall not impact any other pre-existing casino license held by the licensee. The division shall determine what constitutes a substantial closure of a casino hotel facility pursuant to this section.

Last Monday, the New Jersey Assembly passed the bill by a 60 to 17 vote; it now goes to Governor Chris Christie for his signature, though it is not known if he will sign it. The above disqualification would last five years.

Considering the retroactive date in the amendment, this bill specifically targets Carl Icahn. The reason for this is the way Icahn took control of the Taj and the way he handled things after doing so. Trump Entertainment Resorts – the former owner of the Taj – went into bankruptcy proceedings in September 2014. Icahn, the company’s largest debt holder, took control of the Taj Mahal when the company emerged from bankruptcy in February of this year. During the bankruptcy proceedings, the Unite Here Local 54 union lost its pension and healthcare benefits.

This year, after Icahn took over, the Unite Here Local 54 tried to negotiate with his company and the operator of the Taj Mahal, Tropicana Entertainment, to get its benefits back, but Icahn was not agreeable to what the union was looking for. In July, the about 1,000 union workers went on strike and, citing the inability of the Taj Mahal profit because of the strike, Tropicana Entertinament President and CEO Tony Rodio announced a few weeks later that the Taj Mahal would close.

Some believed that after the closure, Icahn would try to re-open the casino using non-union labor so that he would not have to pay union benefits. Thus the reason for the bill.

Senate president Steve Sweeney, the sponsor of the bill, told the AP in June, “Casino owners shouldn’t be manipulating the system and exploiting bankruptcy laws as a way to break unions and take away the rights and benefits of the workers. Atlantic City’s gaming industry is obviously experiencing the difficult challenges of competition from other states, but the answer is not to engage in practices that punish the workers.”

If the bill becomes law, Icahn would be unable to re-open without re-negotiating with the union, which could very well be why he is looking to sell.

Poker News Daily

Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal Closes

 Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal Closes

The Trump Taj Mahal Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City closed yesterday after 26 years. Once the poker hub of the east coast, the Taj is no longer owned by the groping Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but rather by billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises and is operated by Tropicana Entertainment.

The Taj Mahal came to be in Icahn’s hands after Trump Entertainment Resorts exited bankruptcy in February 2016 (I know it’s surprising that a Donald Trump venture had problems, but humor me here); Icahn was its largest debt holder and agreed to take it on. He had said he was also going to spend $ 100 million to improve the property, but he never did.

In late 2014, when Trump Entertainment Resorts began bankruptcy proceedings, employees lost their health care and pension benefits. This July, the Unite Here Local 54, which includes over 1,000 staffers of the Taj, including cooks, bellmen, and housekeepers, went on strike to protest their loss of benefits. A month later, Tropicana Entertainment announced that the casino would close, blaming the strike for the Taj’s lack of profitability.

Bob McDevitt, President of Unite Here Local 54, said of Icahn at the time:

How petty. I would never have thought Carl Icahn was so one-dimensional. The great deal-maker would rather burn the Trump Taj Mahal down just so he can control the ashes. For a few million bucks he could have had labor peace and a content workforce, but instead he’d rather slam the door shut on these long-term workers just to punish them and attempt to break their strike. There was no element of trying to reach an agreement here on Icahn’s part; it was always “my way or the highway” from the beginning with Icahn. It is the epitome of the playground bully, who picks up his ball and announces he is going home because nobody else would do it his way. It is truly a shame that such an unscrupulous person has control of billions of dollars.

The Trump Taj Mahal’s famous poker room really became known, according to The Press of Atlantic City, when it became host of the U.S. Poker Championship in 1996. It was the first $ 10,000 tourney on the east coast and for a number of years was arguably the highlight live poker tournament in the United States outside of the World Series of Poker.

Many poker fans and, really, non-poker fans will remember the Taj in its significant cameo role in the seminal 1998 poker film Rounders.

“It was the place that you could go play without violating any laws and where, if you were someone who wanted to get better at poker and study the best players, you were there,” Rounders writer Brian Koppelman told The Press. “If you were someone who wanted to hustle people, you could go there and find tourists to hustle.”

And that is exactly what was portrayed in the film. In one scene, the New York grinders, including Matt Damon and Edward Norton’s characters, took advantage of unsuspecting tourists. In another, Damon’s character, Mike McDermott, recalls a time he sat down at a table with Johnny Chan for much more money than he could afford and bluffed the two-time WSOP Main Event champ out of a pot.

When the glitzy Borgata opened in 2003, the Taj Mahal’s poker room could not keep up. The Borgata soon became the place to play poker in Atlantic City and casinos in other states kept out-of-state players home. The Taj Mahal poker room closed for “renovations” in February 2015 and didn’t re-open for more than a year, just in time for the strike and the casino’s closure.

Poker News Daily



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