The Trump Taj Mahal has become the fifth casino to close down in Atlantic City since 2014.James Walker reports.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s the 2016 US presidential race draws to an end, Trump Taj Mahal – the last remaining Atlantic City casino property bearing the name of the Republican Party nominee – has closed its doors for the final time, after union talks collapsed.
The property ceased operations just before 6am on October 10, some 26 years after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cut the ribbon on the $1.1bn (E1bn) casino in a star-studded ceremony.
When it opened in 1990, the Taj Mahal was the American businessman’s third Atlantic City casino property, joining Trump Plaza and Trump’s Castle.
Designed by architect Martin Stern for Trump Entertainment Resorts, the Taj Mahal was lauded by Trump as the “eighth wonder of the world”, but had financial problems almost immediately, according to an analysis by CNN of documents Trump filed with state gaming authorities.
Following a $65m (E59m) bailout from the state in 1990 and net losses of more than $120m (E108m) between 1992 and 1995, the Taj Mahal was again included in bankruptcy filings in 2004. Trump eventually rescinded his position as CEO of the resorts company, although he continued to lend his name to its properties.
Trump’s Castle was renamed Trump Marina in 1997, before being acquired by Landry’s in 2011 and rebranded as Golden Nugget Atlantic City. Trump Plaza closed its doors in 2014.
Today is a sad day for Atlantic City, like many of the employees at the Taj Mahal, I wish things had turned out differently.
Billionaire Carl Icahn, a close friend of Trump, bought the Taj Mahal out of bankruptcy in February 2016. Throughout the year Icahn had been engaged in negotiating a new labour deal, which included items such as healthcare and the funding of pension benefits. Members of the Unite Here union had been on strike for 102 days amid the contract negotiations.
The shutdown of the Trump Taj Mahal was widely expected after management announced the planned closure of the resort in August. Beset by the union action and the wider overall decline of Atlantic City as a gaming and entertainment destination, the hotel lost “almost $350m (E317m) over just a few short years”, Icahn said.
Nearly 3,000 workers lost their jobs, bringing the total jobs lost by Atlantic City casino closings to 11,000 since 2014.
“Today is a sad day for Atlantic City,” Icahn said as the Taj Mahal closed its doors for the last time. “Like many of the employees at the Taj Mahal, I wish things had turned out differently.”