Once upon a time, the Taj Mahal was tagged as the flagship of Trump's casino empire. Icahn has agreed to sell it now as he whittles down his gambling-related holdings. Hard Rock International said that it plans to renovate and soon reopen the recently-closed Trump Taj Mahal casino situated in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and they have purchased it for $300 million, including the cost of the property.
The Hard Rock group is a casino and restaurant operator controlled by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and they will be the majority owner of the re-branded Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, in partnership with the Morris and Jingoli families.
Hard Rock purchased the property last week from billionaire Carl Icahn, who is carving down his holdings in the gambling industry. Now, the new owners are planning to do a full remodeling and rebranding project of the property, which is situated on 17 acres along the Atlantic City boardwalk.
According to chairman of Hard Rock International Jim Allen, they figured the renovation would create about 3,000 local jobs. The remodeled place is targeted to be opened by next year's spring or summer season, "The market had growth in 2016. The Taj is a product that has longevity."
Since 2014, 5 out of 12 of Atlantic City's casinos have closed, as newly built competition from neighboring states have taken the large chunk of casino goers from what was once called the East Coast's sole gambling hub. Gambling revenue citywide increased to 1.5% to $2.6 billion last year, which is the first increase in 10 years, boosted by online gambling which was introduced in 2013.
Taj Mahal Background
In early 2015, Icahn Enterprises LP obtained the Taj Mahal casino via a bankruptcy court restructuring and therefore has closed the property in October right after failure to reach agreements with protesting workers over wage and benefits.
Icahn already owns the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City via Tropicana Entertainment Inc. He said, "After considerable analysis and deliberation we determined that we only wanted to own one operating casino property in Atlantic City."
The sale did not include the Trump Plaza casino (also closed) which was nearby. Icahn said he intends to sell that too. According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the 81-year-old Icahn is worth about $20.2 billion.
The Taj Mahal was considered the flagship of Donald Trump's casino empire in its heyday. It was the biggest casino you would see in Atlantic City when it first opened in 1990; however, the expenses used to built the resort became a burden on the business and Trump's casino were all closed after a series of unfortunate bankruptcies. President Trump is no longer associated with these properties.
The Taj Mahal closed on October 10 amid a strike by union members. The closing rendered 2,100 people out of work. Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland said, "This deal is welcome news, not just for the 2,000 union workers who can look forward to greater job security and a hopefully healthier working relationship with management, but also for the greater Atlantic City region as a whole."
Of course, after the renovation, the property will no longer bear Trump's name, but Hard Rock's chairman stated that the first president hail from the casino industry might be given a special invitation to the reopening. Allen said, "If Trump wanted to attend any of our properties, we'd be honored."
Hard Rock Background
Hard Rock International closely operates 172 cafes, 24 hotels and 11 casinos across 74 countries. The Morris family is headed by Jack Morris, CEO of Edgewood Properties in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Jingoli family is led by Michael D. Jingoli and Joseph R. Jingoli, Jr., whose holdings include DCO Energy and Jingoli Construction which are also located in New Jersey.
Hard Rock, which is on a roll when it comes to introducing new hotels and restaurants as well as casinos, said it will also pursue online gambling in New Jersey.
Just this February, Hard Rock has been reported by Reuters that they're looking to buy up to 60% stake in a Japanese casino resort, as the Asian country has finally approved the bill legalizing the operation of casinos.