Icahn Wants To Sell Trump Taj Mahal; Gov. Christie Refuses To Enact Law To Punish AC Casino Owner

[toc]Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have prevent Trump Taj Mahal owner Carl Icahn from reopening the Atlantic City resort as a casino. And in the wake of that veto, Icahn said he was going to try to sell the shuttered property.

Icahn to sell?

Late on Monday, Icahn told The Associated Press that he wanted out of the gaming business in AC. That came after the legislature’s attempt to block a possible reopening of the Taj Mahal, authored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney:

“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,” he said. “I’m done with it.”

Reports that Icahn was trying to sell the resort leaked out in January, although he denied those rumors at the time.

Icahn has also recently agreed to be President Donald Trump’s special advisor on regulatory reform.

Christie takes air out of Icahn bill

Also on Monday, Christie signed and vetoed a number of bills. One of the bills he vetoed was S 2575, authored by Sweeney. If enacted, it would have done the following:

Disqualifies casino license applicant for five-year period if person substantially closed casino property in State; revokes license; reinstates license eligibility under certain circumstances.

The bill’s wording seems broad on its face, but the full language would only affect one casino in New Jersey: the Taj Mahal. it would have prevented the Taj from reopening within five years while still retaining its casino license.

Many in the state were less than enthused with the fact that Icahn closed the resort, citing issues in negotiating with its union workers. The statehouse passed the legislation by overwhelming margins back in December. The bill had been on Christie’s desk ever since.

The legislature could likely toss out Christie’s veto, if it wants to. The bill passed by a margin of 28-7 in the Senate and 60-17 in the Assembly. The legislature need to approve a bill by a two-thirds majority again to override the governor’s veto.

Christie and Icahn push back on casino bill

Both the governor and the Taj Mahal’s owner had pointed words for those supporting the bill.

It’s obviously within a governor’s purview to simply veto a bill without justification. But Christie opted to talk. Here is what he had to say upon vetoing the bill, to NJ.com:

“This ill-conceived and poorly worded legislation that shamelessly backs one side in a labor dispute between private parties without regard to any legal, practical or collateral consequences far exceeds the scope of acceptable legislation and has no place in our state’s laws,” Christie said.

NorthJersey.com has a full statement from both Christie and Icahn. Here’s more from the latter, speaking specifically about the bill’s author:

Unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned, Sweeney has already done irrevocable damage to Atlantic City specifically and New Jersey in general. After his irresponsible actions, we determined that we would not invest the $100 million to $200 million of capital we believed the Taj Mahal needed and that we would instead sell the Taj Mahal at a loss (if possible). 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.

The backstory of the Trump Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal closed its doors in October, joining a number of other shuttered resorts in AC in recent years.

That decision dates back to earlier in 2016, as Icahn and the Taj Mahal’s union workers could not resolve their labor strife. Icahn said he could not continue to operate the resort if he had to meet the demands of the union. Compromise was never reached over the course of several months, culminating with the closure of the property.

Image credit: Andrew Cline / Shutterstock, Inc.

About the Author

Dustin Gouker

Aside from his role as editor at LegalSportsReport.com, Dustin Gouker writes extensively about the legal online gaming and US online poker industries, having played poker recreationally for his entire adult life. He has also covered sports for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among others.