The Trump Taj Mahal will live on, at least for another week. On Friday, Philly.com and other sources reported that Trump Entertainment has pushed back the closure of the Trump Taj until December 20th as they try and come up with a last minute Christmas miracle to save the casino.
Had the initial closure timeline continued, the Taj would have closed on Friday, December 12. The additional time will give the Taj the chance to negotiate with both the Unite-HERE union and state officials as they try and avoid closure. The Taj has proceeded with preliminary closure measures, including the reduction in hours for some employees and the closure of their Chairman hotel tower. Credit was also discontinued to customers earlier this week.
Signs Point to a Last Minute Save of the Casino
While details have yet to be officially ironed out by stakeholders, signs are pointing to the Taj avoiding closure. The first was the delay issued by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross earlier this week. He was scheduled to rule whether Trump Entertainment would be allowed to continue with a Chapter 11 or if he would force them into Chapter 7 liquidation. The delay is huge in that it not only gives them extra time to work out a plan, but it also means that the Judge believes that a recovery plan is possible. Otherwise, why delay the proceedings?
Next, the state legislature is considering a bill that has similarities to Carl Icahn’s plan for the Taj. A bill introduced into the legislature earlier this week would give all Atlantic City casinos a break on taxes for the next two years. Casinos would only pay $150 million in lieu of paying taxes during the first two years and then their bill would drop to $120 million annually provided revenues for the industry remain between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion. However, their bill could be even less should gambling revenue slide below $2 billion.
This bill would give Icahn a tax break similar to what he was asking for from local officials. While this bill doesn’t guarantee the Taj remains open, it definitely increases their odds.
Will Two Weeks Be Enough to Save the Taj?
Doomsday for the Taj is now December 20, just 14 days from now. While this seems like a short amount of time, legislatively this is more than enough time to figure out whether their casino bailout bill has a chance of passing. It is also enough time for Icahn and Atlantic City to hammer out a Taj-only deal. Finally, it gives the Union an opportunity to quit stalling and drop their appeal.
Nobody wants to see the Taj close in Atlantic City. Atlantic City cannot afford for the casino to close and over 3,000 employees certainly don’t want to face both Christmas and the unemployment line. Two weeks is certainly enough to come up with a plan to save the Taj. Now it is up to stakeholders to work out the details.