Where the sand turns to gold! That used to be a promo for the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, but the Taj had become a casualty of the sign of the (broke-dick) times. The crown jewel in Donald Trump's gambling empire is nevermore. Trump sold the Taj back in 2009 and stepped away from day-to-day operations. In 2014, Carl Ichan picked up the Taj off the scrap heap when he acquired the bankrupt casino. Even the mighty Ichan could not turn the Taj around. He didn't want to throw any more money at a sinking ship, so the Taj is never more. Over 3,000 workers will lose their jobs.
The Taj is iconic for poker players due to its inclusion in the cult classic film Rounders. The Taj was where all of the rounders in New York City spent their weekends. A couple of scenes with Matt Damon and Ed Norton were filmed on location at the Taj and in its poker room.
The Taj Mahal officially shutdown on Monday morning at 6am. The casino claims it was unable to reach a deal with striking union workers, but the reality is that the casino was in trouble from the start in 1990 after its construction costs ballooned to over $1 billion. The Taj, under Trump's leadership, had filed for bankruptcy at least multiple times before he finally sold it in 2009.
The latest incarnation of the Taj was struggling to stay competitive in a desperate live gambling market. Overall, Atlantic City has been getting crushed by nearby competitors, especially Pennsylvania casinos. When Donald Trump's Taj Mahal Casino opened up in 1990, Atlantic City was the only spot on the East Coast to gamble. AC had a monopoly until Connecticut legalized gambling, which ushered in mega-casinos Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. It was really the beginning of the end when Trump and the rest of AC lost a stranglehold on the New England gambling market. Once New Jersey's neighboring states, specifically behemoths New York and Pennsylvania (along with Delaware and Maryland), got into the casino business, it would only be a matter of time before Atlantic City would be forced to deal with a bleak future. Throw in a costly superstorm with Hurricane Sandy, along with falling revenues and stiffer competition and you had a recipe for utter disaster with the Taj. Then again, the Taj's fate mirrored many of its former competitors along the historic Atlantic City Boardwalk. Aside from a rare exception like the Borgata Casino, most of the old guard in AC were unable to adapt to the drastically changing circumstances.
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.
Many political pundits look at the timing of the Taj's closing as a metaphor for Donald Trump's run for the White House. The last couple of weeks have been disastrous for the Trump campaign and his numbers have fallen to its all-time low, especially in the gambling markets where Hillary Clinton is a huge favorite to win the Presidency. The shutdown of the Taj is another example of the bad business practices that helped lead to the downfall of the once-mighty Atlantic City.