Trump Taj Mahal Closing on Hold

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Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal casino is still open…for now. Scheduled to close this past Saturday, December 20th, it remains alive for the time being thanks to a $20 million injection from billionaire investor Carl Icahn. Trump Entertainment’s lawyers said this week that the money might allow the Boardwalk fixture to stay viable for all of 2015 while further financial arrangements are hammered out.

Icahn holds $292 million of the Taj Mahal’s debt and had previously said he would give the struggling property another $100 million to keep it going, but he needed tax relief from New Jersey and Atlantic City to the tune of $175 million. The state and city governments have balked on this request, though.

He did get a court to cancel existing collective bargaining agreements with the casino’s main union, though, in an attempt to slash about $14 million in pension and health benefits. The union has filed a complaint with the state. The two sides are still talking, however, trying to come up with some solution to save the casino. It seemed like they came close to a deal last week, but it fell through.

The court has until January 9th to approve the $20 million in financing. According to a Reuters article, Trump Entertainment attorney Erez Gilad told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross that the money could help keep the Trump Taj Mahal afloat during the winter, the slowest season for the east coast casino, literally buying time until gamblers return as the weather gets warmer.

So it looks like the Trump Taj Mahal will not close this year, leaving the number of abandoned Atlantic City casinos in 2014 at four. The Atlantic Club was the first to go, closing in January. It was almost saved by PokerStars, who looked to have a deal in place to purchase the property, but it never happened. On August 31st, the Showboat boarded up its windows on August 31st and its neighbor, Revel, closed two days later. The Trump Taj Mahal’s sister casino, Trump Plaza, shut down on September 16th.

It looked like there was a bit of a bright side when the Revel sold for $110 million to Brookfield US Holdings LLC, which said that it planned to eventually reopen the Revel as a casino. That deal looks dead now, though, as Brookfield pulled out over a dispute about paying for the power plant next door. In the meantime, real estate developer Glenn Straub, who bid over $90 million for the property, may end up owning the place, as he was the runner-up in the auction. He has some…interesting…ideas for the property, including building a second tower in which “geniuses” would tackle the world’s toughest problems, high speed catamarans to take people back and forth to Manhattan, and super jumbo jets to bring in high rollers from Saudi Arabia.

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