Twenty six years… A quarter of a century and then some: that’s how long the Taj Mahal Casino has been in operation, employing thousands of people and witnessing countless stories of gambling. Some of them were great, no doubt, others not so much, but this fabled casino has truly seen it all.
Among other things, the Taj was the home to some scenes from the cult poker movie “Rounders,” further establishing its place as a true gambling landmark. All of that, however, was not enough to salvage the casino which, despite all the attempts, will definitely be going out of business after Labor Day.
Taj Mahal Bumpy Journey
Problems started back in 2014, when the Atlantic City casino made their first announcement they would be going out of business. The news was a shock to many, but primarily to some 3,000 employees who made their ends meet working at the Taj Mahal. Dealers, waiters, pit bosses, and all other casino personnel found themselves in a truly unenviable position.
The bankruptcy procedure was initiated and, at that point, there was little hope left for the casino. However, at the last moment, the billionaire Carl Icahn swooped in with a cash injection and took over the drowning property from the hands of Trump’s company. The owner thus changed, but the name remained the same.
Although the Taj was still far from being safe and sound, this gave casino workers a new hope. You might be wondering: why would anyone invest money into a property that was clearly barely holding on? The answer, to this day, remains unknown. He clearly believed there was something that could be done, but it seems now his numbers were off.
The Final Blow
When Icahn first purchased the Taj early in 2016, workers thought it was a gift sent by God. The Union expressed their hopes that the new owner will finally start treating workers the way they deserve and that things will start going in the right direction.
But, here’s the kicker: that never happened. In fact, they quickly came to realize that none of their requests were going to be met and from the day one, the billionaire made it quite clear that covering employees’ costs was not a part of his plan for restructuring.
This led to a mass strike on July 1st, which saw 1,000 workers walk out of the casino, expressing their utmost dissatisfaction with how their demands regarding health benefits and pensions were treated. Icahn responded in force, calling union members extortionists. It quickly became evident that no agreement would be reached.
The End of Road for the Taj Mahal
A few days ago, the casino made the announcement they would be closing for good after Labor Day. Despite (halfhearted) attempts to rescue the casino, the streak of bad luck that’s been following the property for a couple of years now is simply not going away.
Carl Ichan stated that he spent around $100 million trying to keep the Taj afloat. It wasn’t enough. He described the purchase as a bad bet – the one he was finally ready to let go of.
For the employees, nothing changed. Some 3,000 of them are still in the same position they were two years ago: about to lose their jobs and without a real idea where to go next. Casinos in Atlantic City have been dying one after another and the Taj is the fifth one to go out of business during the recent years.
It was the clash between the owner and the union members that constituted the final blow. The billionaire was simply not prepared to give the employees what they expected regarding their benefits; union representatives, on the other hand, were not willing to compromise – and it all came to a crushing stop.
Trying to figure out who the guilty parties really are goes well beyond the scope of this article and my personal insight in the matter. One thing seems inevitable, though. The Taj Mahal, one of the most renown casinos on the planet, lost the battle against time and competition. Once a landmark of AC, it will soon become just another casino that went out of business.
And 3,000 people will be out of work. As for both Icahn and Trump, I am confident they will both be more than fine.