The owner of the former Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City is looking to sell the shuttered facility in response to a failed attempt by New Jersey lawmakers to strip him of his casino license.
The Taj Mahal, which was formerly owned by President Donald Trump, shut down operations in October after Tropicana Entertainment said it lost more than $100 million trying to save the casino after it emerged from bankruptcy in February 2016.
Tropicana chairman Carl Icahn said in a statement Monday that investing in the casino is no longer worth his time after passage of a bill sponsored by State Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, aimed at disqualifying those who closed a casino since January 2016 from holding a gambling license in the state for at least five years. The legislation was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.
"Unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, Sweeney has already done irrevocable damage to Atlantic City specifically and New Jersey in general," said Icahn in his statement. "After his irresponsible actions, we determined that we would not invest the $100 million to $200 million of capital we believed the Taj Mahal needed and that we would instead sell the Taj Mahal at a loss (if possible). I believe other large investors will similarly have no interest in investing significant amounts in Atlantic City or New Jersey as long as Sweeney is in control of the Senate."
The Taj Mahal closing last fall marked Atlantic City's fifth casino to shutter since 2014 and left the Jersey Shore gambling hub with only seven remaining. The city is saddled with more than $500 million in debt obligations including $240 million of bonded debt. New Jersey's Local Finance Board assumed control of the city's finances in November.
Sweeney blasted Christie's decision to veto his bill, which was approved by the Senate with a 29-6 vote, noting that the legislation was aimed at preventing casino owners like Icahn from reopening gaming facilities with reduced wages and benefits for its employees. Icahn is a special advisor to President Trump.
"The only person who will benefit from this veto will be billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who is a good friend of the casino's namesake, Donald Trump," said Sweeney. "We don't want to have the policies and practices of President Trump and Carl Icahn used to strip away fair wages and benefits for working people in Atlantic City or anywhere else in New Jersey."