Taj Owners Decry Legislation Aimed At Blocking Its Reinvention
Owners of the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City have voiced their opposition to the bill proposed by New Jersey lawmakers that will block the reopening of a closed casino under a new name.
Tony Rodio, the president and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment Inc. which operated the Trump Taj Mahal’s casino stated that Senate President Stephen Sweeney was imposing a punishment on them for closing down Taj Mahal earlier this month. The Trump Taj Mahal casino was purchased by Carl Icahn in 2015 who wanted to pull the casino out of bankruptcy.
He had promised to invest upto $100 million to revive the casino.
In a statement, Rodio said
Punishing Mr. Icahn by revoking his ability to reopen the Taj or making further investments in Atlantic City for 5 years as well as restricting his ability to sell the Taj is unconscionable especially in light of his record in saving the Tropicana
The casino was closed due to the continued strike by Local 54 HERE union workers. The strike started on July 1 after talks between the union and the casino management broke down over contract negotiations. The union had demanded wage hikes and resumption of revoked health benefits which was rejected by casino’s management. Almost 3,000 workers lost their jobs after Trump Taj Mahal closed down.
Rodio said that such as legislation was unprecedented as if the new bill would be retroactive from Jan. 1 2016 and will thus be impacting only the owners of Trump Taj Mahal and not others who have closed casinos in past four years.
The legislation has been introduced to counter a plan reportedly being considered by Icahn to reopen the casino under a new name after firing all union workers. The gambling license issued to Trump Taj Mahal is valid for several more months. Icahn could hire a fresh set of employees with no union affiliation and staff his new casino.
Several New Jersey legislators want to block this from happening, which is the reason for the new bill. The bill S-2575 will seek to modify the NJ Casino Control Act to disallow a casino operator from reopening a casino property under a new identity after being shut down over labor disputes.
The bill has been sponsored by Sweeney with support from two other Democratic state senators namely, Brian P. Stack and Jim Whelan. The state Senate approved Sweeney’s bill which means that Icahn will not be authorized to open the Trump Taj Mahal casino under a new name.
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