It’s official: Atlantic City’s former Trump Taj Mahal casino now belongs to Hard Rock International. The sale of the shuttered casino opened in 1990 by President Donald Trump was finalized Friday. The Florida-based Hard Rock, which manages gambling and resort operations for the Seminole Indian tribe, bought the casino March 1 from billionaire investor Carl Icahn. Icahn is a close friend and adviser to the president. He acquired the Taj Mahal last year from bankruptcy court after Trump was no longer involved with it, aside from a 10 per cent ownership stake in its parent company in return for the use of his name.
Icahn closed it in October after a devastating strike by union workers seeking the restoration of health insurance and pension benefits that the casino’s owner before Icahn, Trump Entertainment Resorts, got a bankruptcy court judge to eliminate in 2014. Hard Rock plans a press conference Wednesday to unveil its plans for the casino, which it wants to reopen next spring. The purchase price has not been revealed, but CEO James Allen has said the purchase and extensive renovations will together cost about USD 300 million. It is likely to feature plenty of guitars, big and small, inside and out. The guitar has become the symbol of the Hard Rock chain, and the company says it owns the world’s largest collection of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.
Hard Rock has long toyed with the idea of opening a casino resort in Atlantic City. In 2011, the company proposed and soon abandoned a music-themed casino resort at the southern end of the Boardwalk that was to feature items from the state’s rock ‘n’ roll history. Hard Rock also still plans to seek permission to open a casino at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford if voters eventually amend the state constitution to allow casino gambling beyond Atlantic City. A referendum to allow it last year was crushed at the polls.