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Trump Taj Mahal

Hard Rock Group Invests $300 Million in Former Trump Casino

Icahn Enterprises LP acquired the Taj Mahal through a bankruptcy court restructuring in early 2015.

(Bloomberg)—Hard Rock International said it plans to renovate and reopen the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at a total cost of $300 million including the purchase of the property.

Hard Rock, a casino and restaurant operator controlled by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, will be majority owner of the rebranded Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in partnership with the Morris and Jingoli families, according to statement late Wednesday.

The group acquired the property this week from billionaire Carl Icahn, who is whittling down his holdings in the gambling market. The new owners plan a complete remodel and rebranding of the property, which is located on 17 acres along the Atlantic City boardwalk. They said the renovation would create 3,000 local jobs.

“We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City creating thousands of jobs to help local employment,” Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International, said in the statement. “We are 100 percent convinced Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will be a success.”

Five of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos have closed since 2014, as new competition from neighboring states has taken business from what was once the East Coast’s sole gambling hub. Citywide gambling revenue rose 1.5 percent to $2.6 billion last year, the first increase in a decade, bolstered by online gambling, which was introduced in 2013.

Global Footprint

Closely held Hard Rock International operates 174 cafes, 24 hotels and 11 casinos in 74 countries, according to the statement. The Morris family is led by Jack Morris, chief executive officer of Edgewood Properties in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Jingolis are led by Joseph R. Jingoli Jr. and Michael D. Jingoli, whose interests include Jingoli Construction and DCO Energy, also in New Jersey.

Icahn Enterprises LP acquired the Taj Mahal through a bankruptcy court restructuring in early 2015 and shuttered the property in October after failing to reach agreements with striking workers over pay and benefits. Icahn already owns the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City through Tropicana Entertainment Inc.

“After considerable analysis and deliberation we determined that we only wanted to own one operating casino property in Atlantic City,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

The sale doesn’t include the nearby Trump Plaza casino, which is also closed. Icahn intends to sell that as well. 

The Taj Mahal was once the flagship of Donald Trump’s casino empire. It was the largest casino in Atlantic City when it opened in 1990, but the cost to build the property weighed on the business and Trump’s casinos were all shuttered following a series of bankruptcies. President Trump is no longer associated with the properties.

Icahn, 81, is worth an estimated $20.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Crayton Harrison at [email protected] Rob Golum, Jessica Brice

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