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Trump Taj Mahal Re-Investment Won't Happen If Casinos Allowed In North Jersey, Billionaire Says

Casino's New Owner Waiting On Results Of Likely November Referendum


Icahn/BloombergThis could be bad news for poker players hoping for a re-opening of the Trump Taj Mahal’s poker room.

Billionaire Carl Icahn told the Associated Press Wednesday that if Garden State lawmakers and state voters allow casinos in north Jersey he won’t be spending $100 million on upgrades and other enhancements to the Taj, which he recently acquired for less than $300 million thanks to the casino’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Taj closed its poker room early last year and hasn’t yet re-opened it. It had originally planned to re-open the storied room last summer. With 48 tables, the Taj’s poker room was once the second largest in the city behind the Borgata.

“Although I had planned to invest up to $100 million in the Taj, just as I made substantial investments at the Tropicana, obviously it would not be judicious to proceed with those investments while gaming in north Jersey is an open issue, and we will have to wait to see the outcome of those proposals,” Icahn told the AP.

Icahn did say he will pump between $10 million and $20 million into the casino for maintenance purposes regardless of the north Jersey casino decision.

At this point, a November referendum on allowing casinos outside of Atlantic City seems like a foregone conclusion. Atlantic City currently has eight casinos, but more are expected to close if north Jersey gets Las Vegas-style casino gambling.



6 years ago

I'm not surprised that Mr. Icahn would oppose North Jersey casinos, but I don't understand his silence on the boutique casino bill that would add 2 small casino in Atlantic City. It's time for some organization to study the probable impact of a casino at the Meadowlands on AC and on regional casinos in PA and NY; because that is the one location that could be operational, very quickly after a Statewide referendum. The convenience factor has already helped our previous market grow by 31%, from $5.2 billion to $6.8 billion. Personally, I would like to see the North Jersey bill add the 55% slot tax, as proposed by Jeff Gural, along with a 14% to 16% table win tax; because this would produce maximum taxes for New Jersey; plus I don't think another destination casino could justify a multi $billion project at these tax rates. And if Atlantic City were to get a third or more of the new tax revenues, AC projects could receive as much as $150 million a year; possibly to cover some of the City's real estate tax losses from casino revaluations. And some could be available to subsidize the start up of air service into AC International, which would enable South Jersey to promote Nationwide conventions and trade shows. AC could be a mini Vegas, depending more on other department earnings, than from the casino. Studying the Nevada Abstracts for 2014, the latest data available, will show the 23 largest Strip casino/resorts earning $2.41 billion in the rooms department and only $1.98 billion from the casino; with the food, night club and other departments earning another $1.94 billion. So the casino department produces 36.6% of the revenue, but only 31.2% of overall departmental income. And in 2015, casino revenues on the Strip fell even further, to 34.9% of overall revenue.
Over the past 9 years, AC casino revenues have declined from $5.2 billion to $2.5 billion; but looking at the population of our primary markets in 2006, roughly 95% now have a casino much nearer home. So we are still drawing from our old customer bases, but with less frequency and rarely mid week, where the convention trades book, possibly AC's best opportunity for the future. Prior to 2006, we boosted out mid week casino play with line run busses, at one time reaching 14 million persons annually. But we have lost nearly 90% of those customers, many now going from Manhattan to Sands Bethlehem. Steven Norton