“We are not looking to sell it, not at today’s prices,” Icahn said. “I made my fortune buying things cheap.”
After Republican Mayor Don Guardian urged Icahn to sell the casino, make a profit, and move on, Icahn told the Associated Press he’d be happy to sell the property if the Atlantic City mayor produced the funds he’d lost on the investment.
Icahn, whom many people believed was planning on reopening the Trump Taj Mahal with non-union workers in the spring, stated that the mayor was wrong in his attack. He pointed out that he has done much to help Atlantic City’s economy, including the rescue of the Tropicana and the attempted rescue of the Trump Taj Mahal.
“Telling us we should sell the Taj and make a profit is easier said than done,” Icahn said. “We’ve lost almost $300 million on that investment. If he’s a buyer at that price, I’d be a happy seller.”
Icahn to surrender gaming license
On the same day that Icahn made these comments, New Jersey gambling regulators revealed that Icahn had applied for permission to surrender the Taj Mahal’s casino license.
A new bill was passed by the New Jersey House and Senate that will impose a five-year suspension on any casino operator’s gaming license if said casino shut down operations in Atlantic City after January 2016.
As the Taj Mahal was the only Atlantic City casino to close its doors during this time, it is obvious that the bill was specifically designed with Icahn in mind.
Icahn’s response to new legislation
“When a guy like Sweeney goes after someone who saved the Tropicana and 3,000 jobs when no one else would, who would invest in New Jersey?” Icahn asked, in reference to the bill’s author, NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Icahn’s attorneys have since filed deed restrictions that will ban the Taj Mahal from being used as a casino unless an undisclosed fee is paid to Icahn’s company. These restrictions make it clear that Icahn intends for the Atlantic City venue to remain vacant for quite some time.
It remains to be seen whether Governor Chris Christie will sign this new bill into law or choose to veto it.
Mayor disagrees with Icahn’s decision
Mayor Don Guardian said that allowing the casino to stay vacant was “the worst of the worst” in regards to outcomes for the property. He feels that the struggling seaside resort town can’t afford to let such a huge piece of the Atlantic City Boardwalk remain vacant.
For now, the future of the Taj Mahal is up in the air, but Icahn’s actions seem to undermine any rumors that he was planning on reopening the Taj Mahal in the spring with or without union contracts.
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