Revenue down 8.2 percent at Trump Taj Mahal amid strike

Atlantic City Unite Here Local 54 union members walk the picket line as they strike the Trump Taj Mahal (Anthony Smedile for NewsWorks)

Atlantic City Unite Here Local 54 union members walk the picket line as they strike the Trump Taj Mahal (Anthony Smedile for NewsWorks)

A strike that helped persuade billionaire Carl Icahn to close Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal casino helped drive revenue down by 8.2 percent in July, even as most of the city’s other seven casinos did well during the crucial summer month.

Icahn, who owns the casino that Donald Trump opened in 1990, plans to shut it down Oct. 10, saying it is losing millions of dollars a month. The strike began July 1 and is ongoing.

Figures released Friday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show the Taj Mahal won $17.5 million from gamblers in July, down 8.2 percent from the $19.1 million it won in July 2015 when there was no strike. The results likely would have been worse had there not been an extra Saturday and Sunday this July compared to last July.

But overall, revenue at Atlantic City’s eight casinos was up 6.9 percent in July, to $275.2 million. Part of that was attributable to gamblers who might have patronized the Taj Mahal taking their business elsewhere: Resorts, the nearest functioning casino to the Taj Mahal, saw its revenue increase by 6.2 percent in July compared with a year ago, to $17.8 million.

“July was a solid month, even though several properties faced challenges including a strike by union employees at one casino,” said Matt Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. “I hope that August’s results will be helped by great beach concerts, the air show and fantastic weather.”

Revenue from table games was up 11 percent, to $75.7 million, and slot machine revenue was up 3.1 percent, to $182.2 million. Internet gambling revenue continued its steady growth, up 38.6 percent from a year ago, to $17.3 million.

Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union went on strike against the Taj Mahal after being unable to reach a deal restoring health insurance and pension benefits that the casino’s former owners terminated in bankruptcy court.

Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, no longer owns the casino, having cut most ties with Atlantic City in 2009. His lone remaining 10 percent ownership stake in the Taj Mahal’s parent company was wiped out during its most recent bankruptcy when Icahn took over in March.

The Tropicana, Atlantic City’s other casino owned by Icahn, posted the biggest increase among brick-and-mortar casinos, up 14.2 percent to $36.4 million. The Borgata, recently fully acquired by MGM Resorts International, which used to own half of it, was up 12.1 percent, to $84.7 million.

The Golden Nugget was up 9.7 percent, to $25 million, and Caesars, another Boardwalk competitor to the Taj Mahal, was up 7.6 percent, to $31.2 million.

Harrah’s was down 5.2 percent, to $34.2 million, and Bally’s was down 4.8 percent, to $21.6 million.

Friday’s figures also revealed how all five companies involved in internet gambling in New Jersey are staking out increasingly similar equal shares of the market, which used to be dominated by the Borgata. The Borgata; Caesars Interactive-NJ; the Golden Nugget; Resorts Digital; and the Tropicana posted internet gambling revenue of $3 million to $3.9 million in July.

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