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N.J. aims to hold casino owners accountable with plan for 5-year license suspension

Striking union members protest outside the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City moments before it owner Carl Icahn  shut it down in October. New Jersey lawmakers are considering hampering casino  owners who shut down over a labor dispute and then seek to reopen with non-union workers. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Striking union members protest outside the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City moments before it owner Carl Icahn shut it down in October. New Jersey lawmakers are considering hampering casino owners who shut down over a labor dispute and then seek to reopen with non-union workers. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

All bets would be off for any New Jersey casino owner who shuts down because of a labor dispute and then tries to reopen.

The state Assembly is weighing a bill that would revoke for five years the license of any owner who attempts such a gambit.

The legislation would prevent owners of casinos such as the Taj Mahal, which closed in October, from sitting on a license and reopening with reduced wages for workers, said Assemblyman John Burzichelli.

“The state has an interest in how these licenses function because we expect certain things to happen with revenue that needs to be generated there,” said Burzichelli, D-Gloucester. “So, in this particular case, having a person hold a license, choosing not to operate for their purposes — which they’re absolutely entitled to — we don’t think that they should continue to have the privilege of a license.”

The lawmaker referred to Carl Icahn, who closed the Trump Taj Mahal casino in October after failing to resolve a dispute over health benefits with striking unionized employees.

Assemblyman Chris Brown called the legislation an attempt to hold casino owners accountable.

“You are allowed to open, and you are allowed to have your casino and make the money that you’re going to make, and we wish you all the luck in the world,” said Brown, R-Atlantic. “Your end of the bargain is to provide decent jobs and economic opportunity.”

The gambling license for the Taj Mahal is still valid. Icahn’s management team said the legislation is unfair. If enacted, it could face a legal challenge.

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