From ‘iconic’ to ‘black mark,’ Trump Taj goes dark
The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City deals its last hand just before 6 a.m. Monday, the victim of consistent financial struggles and failed union negotiations.
The gaming hall on the north end of the boardwalk has been packing its things for days - taking slots offline and informing patrons on the casino's shutdown timeline - and all hotel guests were to be out of their rooms by noon Sunday.
"When (Taj Mahal) opened in 1990, it became almost the iconic building in Atlantic City, and for it to close down is a big, black mark on the city," said James Karmel, author of "Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era."
Indian-themed uniforms cost millions; some staff members were shipped to Disney World for training; lighting was provided by imported Italian chandeliers; giant white elephant statues greeted vehicles and passers-by. The glitz-and-glam casino, which was once the tallest building in the state, cost $1 billion to get up and running.
Its opening in April 1990 still goes down as one of the biggest moments in Atlantic City history, Karmel said. A video genie, rock music and laser lights accompanied the casino's star-studded debut.
"There was no expense spared in the development of the Trump Taj and it showed," Karmel said. "It was this incredibly ornate, interestingly themed casino resort."
And while it had no problem bringing in money from gamblers, debt garnered from construction financing quickly became too much to handle.
Within 15 months of opening, the casino underwent its first bankruptcy filing.
After a bankruptcy filing by Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2014, ownership of the Taj Mahal switched to billionaire Carl Icahn who helped the Taj escape the same fate as the defunct Trump Plaza.
But not for long.
The city's main casino workers' union has been striking since July over lost insurance and pension benefits, and the two sides failed to reach an agreement in order to save thousands of jobs.
The Taj is the fifth Atlantic City casino to go dark since early 2014.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.