Published On: Wed, Dec 24th, 2014

Carl Icahn Keeps the Lights On in Atlantic City for One More Year

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The Trump Taj Mahal, a casino hotel in New Jersey’s struggling Atlantic City gambling hub, could stay open for all of 2015 with a $20 million financing package from investor Carl Icahn, lawyers for Trump Entertainment Resorts said on Monday, according to a Reuters report on December 22.

The casino was supposed to shut its doors on Saturday, which would have made it the fifth in the city to close this year. But it stayed open through the weekend as Icahn and the company hashed out a financing deal, the report said.

Icahn made the offer last week, but neither he nor the company would say at the time whether or for how long it would keep the property open, Reuters said.

Atlantic City’s fortunes have faded as competition from Pennsylvania and other neighboring states has cut into the monopoly it once held on East Coast gaming, said the report.

Bankrupt Trump Entertainment’s other casino, the Trump Plaza, was one of the four to close this year.

If the court approves Icahn’s financing by Jan. 9, the $20 million would help the Taj Mahal stay open during lean winter months until business picks up in the summer, Trump Entertainment attorney Erez Gilad told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross during a hearing in Wilmington, Delaware, Reuters said.

Icahn could use the extra year to resolve issues concerning the casino, including a fight with its union over health and pension benefits that is pending in federal appeals court.

Icahn, who holds $292 million of Taj Mahal debt, had previously agreed to invest $100 million to keep the casino open if the business obtains up to $175 million in tax relief from the city and state, the report said.

Under the deal reached over the weekend, that package is off the table, Gilad told the court. A hearing on the debtor-in-possession financing is scheduled for Jan. 9, Reuters said.

There’s a lot riding on the outcome of this drama, even beyond 3, 000 jobs at the Taj. Icahn, who owns the Tropicana, holds $282 million in Trump Entertainment debt and is poised to take over the bankrupt company and invest $100 million, the Philadelphia Inquirer said on December 22.

He wants tax relief from the state, which says it won’t pass legislation to make that happen until Icahn settles with the union. For its part, the city desperately needs those bills passed to stabilize its finances. The casino tax formula outlined in the legislation would require the Taj in the mix, the Inquirer said.

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