Icahn Bill Vetoed But He’s Still Selling Atlantic City Taj Casino
Despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoing a bill specifically designed to keep him from re-opening Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal without settling a union dispute, Carl Icahn (l.) says he still intends to sell the casino. Icahn said he expects other investors will shy away from the resort as a result of the bill, even though it was vetoed.
Governor Chris Christie vetoed a move by the New Jersey Legislature to keep Carl Icahn from re-opening the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, but the billionaire says he’s still going to unload the property.
Despite the bill being vetoed, Icahn says he will sell the closed casino—possibly at a loss—rather than investing the $100 to $200 million in the property he had planned.
He blamed New Jersey Senate leader Stephen Sweeney who sponsored the bill Christie vetoed. The bill would have blocked a casino operator from re-opening a casino for five years after closing it down. Sweeney openly said the bill was aimed at Icahn.
“After Sweeney’s irresponsible actions, I have made a decision to sell the Taj if I can, but not to invest the $100 million to $200 million in it that I was going to,” Icahn told the Associated Press. “I’m done with it.”
“I believe other large investors will similarly have no interest in investing significant amounts in Atlantic City or New Jersey as long as Sweeney is in control of the Senate,” he said in another press statement. .
Icahn also wrote on his personal website: “A wise man once told me that the combination of power and irresponsibility in any person is extremely dangerous. Sweeney is the quintessential proof of that statement’s truth.”
Icahn closed the Taj Mahal last fall after failing to settle a longstanding labor dispute with the city’s main casino labor union. The closing left many speculating that Icahn planned to re-open the casino in the spring without union labor. The bill—which was retroactive to January 2016—blocked such a move, but would have allowed Icahn to re-open the casino if he settled with the unions.
Christie called the bill a “transparent attempt to punish” Icahn.
“This bill represents the legislature at its worst,” Christie said in his veto statement. “It is a transparent attempt to punish the owner of the Taj Mahal casino for making the business decision to close its doors after its union employees went on strike and refused to negotiate in good faith. This ill-conceived and poorly worded legislation that shamelessly backs one side in a labor dispute . . . has no place in our State’s laws.”
Sweeney called the veto “flat-out wrong.”
“We don’t want to have the policies and practices that President Trump and Carl Icahn used to strip away fair wages and benefits for working people in Atlantic City or anywhere else in New Jersey,” Sweeney said in his own press statement. Even now, Mr. Icahn continues to make threats after the governor vetoed the bill. It’s his empty attempt to bully and intimidate, just like Trump.”
Icahn has not said if he has a potential buyer. In December, he filed a deed restriction on the property prohibiting it from being re-opened as a casino.
In another matter involving a closed Atlantic City casino, a bill has been introduced in the state Senate that would allow Florida-based developer Glenn Straub to re-open the former Revel casino in Atlantic City without acquiring a casino license.
Straub wants to re-open a casino at the property, which he has renamed Ten, but would lease the space to a casino operator. Straub argues that since he won’t be running the casino, he should not need full casino licensing. The state’s Casino Control Commission, however, has argued that state law requires he be fully licensed. Straub has said he will appeal the ruling.
The bill from state Sen. Raymond Lesniak—one of the state’s driving forces for gambling and casino legislation—would allow Glenn Straub to lease out casino space as a landlord.
“Makes no sense to have a landlord go through the same lengthy review as a casino operator and stands in the way of its opening and creating business activity and employment,” Lesniak told the Press of Atlantic City.
No hearing date on the bill has been scheduled.