Hard Rock International bought Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City

The Trump Taj Mahal was confirmed to have been sold by Carl Icahn to Hard Rock International, who has been hoping to enter the Atlantic City gambling market for some time now.

An unsuccessful beginning

When the Trump Taj Mahal opened its doors for the first time in 1990 its namesake grandly proclaimed it to be the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. It crumbled extraordinarily fast, declaring bankruptcy within only a year of opening, because the debt that had been taken on during the construction of the casino resort proved to be unsustainable.

Things were sorted out in a pre-packaged deal and eventually the casino became the highest grossing in Atlantic City, at least until 2003 when The Borgata opened. Since 1996 the casino belonged to Trump Entertainment Resorts, but when the company had to file for bankruptcy in 2014, it was threatened that the Taj Mahal would close its doors unless it received concessions from its unions. A labour dispute was the result.

At the end of 2014 billionaire Carl Icahn committed to an investment and in 2015 he acquired the Taj Mahal, promising to pump $200 million into the casino.

Unfortunately the ailing casino did not recover and after a workers’ strike in summer 2016, which cost Icahn millions, the casino was closed in October.

Hard Rock takes over

Atlantic City has been ailing for a number of years, with major casino resorts closing their doors. Last November New Jersey residents rejected a bill that would have allowed casino expansion beyond the city, which apparently foiled Hard Rock International plans to build a casino at the Meadowlands racetrack.

With an eye on Atlantic City for a number of years now, it’s been announced that Hard Rock International and two local partners would acquire the Trump Taj Mahal and invest $300 million into the casino resort.

Incidentally Hard Rock also operates a restaurant on the premises, which is still open for business.

The rejuvenated casino is set to open in summer 2018, when it will be renamed to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. It’s been reported that the nearly 3,000 people, who lost their jobs when the casino shut its doors last year, will be rehired for the re-opening. That seems to be a rather long time to hang around unemployed, however, and many former staffers are likely to have moved on by then.

Carl Icahn’s loss

Apparently Carl Icahn lost about $300 million with the Trump Taj Mahal. He said at some point, when it was clear he would be selling the property, that he’d be happy to sell it for half that price. It’s unclear how much Hard Rock International and its partners actually paid for the casino. Details of the deal have been kept under wraps.

There can be no doubt that Icahn did not get what he paid for the casino and that the whole venture is more or less a write-off for him.

He still owns the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, which closed back in 2014. Icahn is trying to sell that one as well, but so far he’s not been successful. The billionaire said that he’s quite happy to operate only one casino in Atlantic City, the Tropicana Casino and Resort, which is apparently doing quite well.