Politics and business don't always mix for billionaire investor Carl Icahn. He told the Associated Press on Monday that he will be looking to sell the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, NJ despite Governor Chris Christie vetoing a bill that would have stripped him of his casino license.
Last year, Icahn opposed union demands that he restore healthcare and pension for the union's workers benefits at the recently purchased casino, and instead decided to shutter the 4.2 million square-foot property in October, eliminating about 3,000 jobs.
State Senate President Sweeney retaliated by introducing a bill last year that would punish any casino operator who closed a casino in the struggling resort town by stripping them of a casino license for five years. Christie vetoed that bill Monday, but Icahn is resolute in his intention to sell the property.
Icahn, who is a member President Trump's financial advisory team, purchased $292 million of Trump Entertainment Resorts' debt and put it toward ownership of the company while also promising to invest as much as $100 million in the Taj Mahal property in 2015.
"Unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, Sweeney has already done irrevocable damage to Atlantic City specifically and New Jersey in general," Icahn said in a statement. "After his irresponsible actions, we determined that we would not invest the $100 million to $200 million of capital we believed the Taj Mahal needed and that we would instead sell the Taj Mahal at a loss (if possible)."
Sweeney however was also resolute in his criticism of Icahn. "The only person who will benefit from this veto will be billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who is a good friend of the casino's namesake, Donald Trump," Sweeney said in a statement.
Christie, who was at one time considered for a position in Trump's cabinet, commented that "It is a transparent attempt to punish the owner of the Taj Mahal casino for making the business decision to close its doors after its union employees went on strike and refused to negotiate in good faith."
Atlantic City has been in dire straits for years as legalized gambling in nearby states like Pennsylvania and Maryland have cannibalized the city's gaming revenue. Last year the state's Local Finance Board voted 5-0 to approve a five-year state takeover of the city. The decision gave the board the right to sell the city's assets, negotiate union contracts and dismiss the city's workers.