The Trump Taj Mahal will be closing its doors after the owners announced that a prolonged employee strike led to a decision to close the Atlantic City casino after Labor Day.
The closure was revealed on Wednesday, with ownership stating that the loss of revenue from the strike forced the move, Fox News reported.
There had been a strike of employees at the Trump Taj Majal that started just before the Fourth of July holiday, with Local 54 of the Unite-HERE Union supporting the strike. The striking employees include servers, cooks, and cleaning staff. Casino floor staff, including dealers, were not part of the strike.
The biggest point of contention between employees at the Trump Taj Mahal and ownership was over employee health insurance and benefits. The casino was purchased by billionaire investor Carl Icahn in March, taking ownership from a bankruptcy court.
Tony Rodio, president of Tropicana Entertainment, the company that operates Trump Taj Mahal, said they decided on Wednesday to close down rather than continue losing money in the midst of the worker strike.
“Currently the Taj is losing multi-millions a month, and now with this strike, we see no path to profitability,” Rodio said (via Fox News). “Our directors cannot just allow the Taj to continue burning through tens of millions of dollars when the union has singlehandedly blocked any path to profitability. Unfortunately we’ve reached the point where we will have to close the Taj.”
The casino was first opened by Donald Trump in 1990, although he has sold his stake in it, and the casino retains only his name.
But while the Trump Taj Mahal may have no official connection to Donald Trump, the casino played a role in one of the major lines of attack against Trump. Hillary Clinton’s campaign released an ad in June featuring Mike Diehl, a father of five and a piano store owner who claimed Trump failed to pay up on a $100,000 order when the casino first opened.
The three-minute web video was part of an attack on Trump’s alleged record of stiffing small vendors, a tactic Diehl said was used against him. As NJ.com noted, the controversy overshadowed the Trump Taj Mahal’s opening.
Diehl waited more than a month after delivering the pianos before calling about the bill, stating he received a “runaround at first.” Eventually, Diehl was told the casino did not have the money to pay the bill in full and was told he would have to accept 70 cents on the dollar or try his luck in bankruptcy court. “I feel as if someone stole $30,000 from me,” Diehl, 88, says in the video.
Diehl also spoke to USA Today for a story about Trump’s legacy in Atlantic City and the repeated failures of his casinos there. The story recounted the rocky launch of the Trump Taj Mahal, which was financed through $675 million in junk bonds at 14 percent interest.
The casino missed its first interest payment in 1990 and filed for bankruptcy less than a year later. Trump forfeited 50 percent of his ownership to bondholders in a restructured deal, USA Today noted.
More trouble came when Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, illegally loaned the casino $3.5 million when he instructed an attorney to buy casino chips that were not used.
The business failings have been a point of attack for Democrats, and Hillary Clinton even made a campaign stop to the Trump Taj Mahal in July.
The closing of Trump Taj Mahal is seen as a major blow to the casino industry in Atlantic City, where there will now be just seven casinos remaining.
As Fox News noted, there could be more bad news on the way for Atlantic City. Voters will decide in November whether to permit the opening of two casinos in northern New Jersey, which would likely lead to more shutting down in Atlantic City.
With the closing of Trump Taj Mahal, close to 3,000 workers are expected to lose their jobs.
[Photo by Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx/AP Images]