Taj Mahal Marks Fifth Casino Closure in AC
After 26 years in business, the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey shuttered its doors on October 10 at 5:59 AM ET. Billionaire investor and friend of presidential candidate Donald Trump, Carl Icahn, sited a lengthy union battle and a loss of nearly $350 million as the reasons for closing operations after he acquired the business in 2014. The Taj Mahal is the fifth casino to close in Atlantic City in the last two years, which has resulted in approximately 8,000 job losses. This closure will add another 3,000 job losses to the statistic.
A 102-day battle between UNITE HERE Local 54 union and Carl Icahn ended in loss, but strikers don’t regret their decision. They’ve been fighting over reinstating health and pension benefits, which were eliminated when the company experienced its fourth bankruptcy in 2014. While many other casinos experienced labor disputes over the summer of 2016, including Harrah’s Resort, Bally’s, Caesars, and even the Icahn-owned Tropicana, all but the Taj Mahal came to an agreement.
Bob McDeviit, the UNITE HERE Local 54 President, believes that Icahn will keep the facility closed over winter, perform renovations, and then re-open as a non-unionized casino. Repairs have been performed on the boardwalk entrance and facade days after the casino’s closure was publicized on August 3. However, when asked about it, Icahn spokesperson Andrew Langham, stated that the repairs needed to be done regardless, adding, “Ask [Icahn] whether the other four casinos he’s closed ever reopened.” Icahn has closed two Atlantic City casinos prior to the Taj Mahal closure.
The closing comes one month before the state-wide casino expansion vote on whether the gambling industry should be opened beyond Atlantic City, which now has seven casinos. If the referendum passes, two casinos will open in northern New Jersey. The referendum is scheduled for November 8.