The Trump Taj Mahal still plans to close in December, but the final day of operations has been pushed back by eight days to December 20. That delay comes as parent company Trump Entertainment Resorts continues to negotiate on several fronts, including with the state of New Jersey, the city of Atlantic City, and the union that represents many of its workers.
As has been the case for several weeks now, both Trump Entertainment Resorts and investor Carl Icahn, who could potentially turn the debt he owns into control of the casino, say that they would be willing to keep the Trump Taj Mahal open, but only on their terms.
That would include having Local 54 of the UNITE HERE union drop its appeal of a bankruptcy court ruling that would allow the casino to break their contract with workers. They would also require significant tax relief from the city and state.
“The Trump Taj Mahal is currently engaged in a last ditch effort to obtain additional financial assistance from Atlantic City and/or the State of New Jersey,” said Senior Vice President for Marketing Operations Kathleen McSweeney in a statement. “We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached enabling the Trump Taj Mahal to remain open.”
Operations Winding Down Despite Delay
Still, there are signs that the Taj Mahal still expects to shut down on the new date, at least for the moment. Early last week, the resort closed one of its hotel towers and stopped issuing credit to gamblers who were still playing in the casino. McSweeney also said that some employees are now working fewer hours as a result of operations winding down throughout the Taj Mahal.
On the other hand, bankruptcy filings from Trump Entertainment Resorts included information that suggested the closing date could be revised yet again to continue to leave room for all parties to negotiate.
“The debtors continue to make progress with respect to various efforts that are critical to the success of these chapter 11 cases and their ability to keep the Taj open, and therefore it remains possible that the current proposed closing date for the Taj…will be further extended,” the company wrote.
Tax Stabilization Bill Could Meet Demands
Perhaps the most likely source of help could be a tax stabilization plan that is currently being reviewed in the state legislature. That plan was approved Monday by the State Senate budget committee after Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian testified in favor of the bill.
“I do believe this legislation is going to save the Taj from closing,” said Guardian. “It’s exactly what the proposed new owner has been asking for.”
Under the proposed plan, Atlantic City casinos would pay a total of $150 million in lieu of taxes each of the next two years, and then $120 million for each of the next 13 years, with possible adjustments should gambling revenues change dramatically.
This would allow both the casinos to be certain in their tax expenses, while the city could have more certainty in budgeting for the future. The bill would also redirect some funds to help pay off the city’s debts, and would guarantee at least a minimum level of health benefits for Atlantic City casino workers.