Donald Trump’s friend, political supporter, and fellow billionaire Carl Ichan has shuttered the Trump Taj Mahal casino hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, following a labour standoff and $350 million in losses.
Billed by the original owner and US Presidential candidate Donald Trump as the eighth wonder of the world when it opened twenty-six years ago, the Taj was part of what was hoped would be Atlantic City’s bid to become the Las Vegas of the American East Coast.
But now the Taj Mahal makes five casino hotel closures in two years for the seaside town. Hopes that the casino hotel industry will even survive, let alone thrive, are beginning to ebb.
The closure of the sprawling boardwalk casino will not only dent the prospects for the regional economy, however. Nearly 3,000 Taj Mahal employees now find themselves unemployed. Contrary to expectation, at least in the short term, many ex-Taj employees are celebrating.
“We stood up to a billionaire and told him we wouldn’t take it,” cocktail server Tina Condos told the Business Insider. “I hope it gives him pause before he tries to come in and do this to anyone else. We feel like we succeeded here.”
The billionaire Condos refers to in this instance is Ichan, who purchased the Taj Mahal and other Trump properties out of bankruptcy in 2014. Since then Ichan has been embroiled in a protracted labour dispute with UNITE Here Local 54 union, who had been on strike for 102 days prior to the closure.
Speaking to Forbes, Ichan said, “Today is a sad day for Atlantic City. Despite our best efforts, which included losing almost $350 million over just a few short years, we were unable to save the Taj Mahal.”
“There’s no reason for this. It’s hard to believe they weren’t able to make a deal,” casino founder Donald Trump told The Associated Press in the days leading up the the closure. Although Trump’s connection to the facility was ended years ago, the iconic property’s failure cannot help but tarnish Trump’s personal brand to some extent.
But despite the damage to their own personal finances, some Trump Taj Mahal employees are facing up to their straightened circumstances calmly. According to one, “I’m angry about what’s happened, but I’m not sad about what we did. I’m at peace with myself.”