Trump Taj Mahal Closes for Good

Posted on: October 10, 2016, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: October 10, 2016, 04:02h.

Trump Taj Closes
The Trump Taj Mahal finally closes after months of industrial action and a history of bankruptcy, bailouts and unprofitability. (Image: Getty Images)

The Trump Taj Mahal today became the fifth casino to shutter in Atlantic City in three years.

At 6am this morning (Monday, 11 October), the Taj closed its doors for the last time, just hours after its former owner squared off in a US Presidential debate 950 miles away in St Louis, Missouri. Some three-thousand workers will lose their jobs.

Trump, whose name still adorns those doors, described the casino as the “eighth wonder of the world” when it opened in 1990, at a cost of $1 billion.

A year later, when Trump couldn’t cover the payments on the junk bonds he’d used to finance its construction, it became the first wonder of the world to declare for bankruptcy since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were eaten by a plague of locusts.

Even after a controversial $65 million bailout from the state, it was bankrupt again in 2004, and yet again in 2009, when Trump sold the casino, along with his other interests in Atlantic City, to a group of venture capitalists who became Trump Entertainment.

He has had nothing to do with the management of the Taj since, but negotiated a deal in which he retained a ten percent stake for use of the Trump brand name.

Icahn Steps In

Five years later, Trump Entertainment had declared bankruptcy, and Trump was suing to have his name removed from the Taj and the shuttered Plaza, claiming that the company had become unworthy of his “superior reputation.”

Trump’s friend, the billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn, stepped in to rescue the property from the brink and persuaded Trump to let him retain the name. Icahn held the lion’s share of the casino’s debt, some $286 million, and agreed to turn that debt into equity and assume full control, provided he were granted certain concessions by the city.

These included the temporary cessation of worker pension and healthcare benefits, which were duly granted.

Industrial Action

The move provoked industrial action from members of the Unite Here Local 54 Union, who picketed the Taj for weeks before the announcement of its permanent closure.

“Currently, the Taj is losing multi-millions a month, and now, with this strike, we see no path to profitability,” explained Tony Rodeo of Icahn Enterprises. Icahn had lost around $100 million on the property, he added.

Local 54 leader Bob McDevitt said Icahn chose to “burn the Trump Taj Mahal down” to punish strikers.

Icahn today called it a “sad day for Atlantic City.”