By David Madden
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — Casino regulators in New Jersey have given the green light to billionaire Carl Ichan to take control of the Trump Taj Mahal.
The Casino Control Commission voted unanimously to approve Ichan’s application, an easy call given he already owns the Tropicana. Commission Chairman Matt Levinson said it came down to a simple question.
“Does he qualify to hold a license in the state of New Jersey to run the Taj Mahal?” he said. “With integrity, financial stability, we found that him and his corporation were.”
Levinson said there is one concern — a pending appeal of a decision in federal bankruptcy court by unions at the Taj Mahal that saw members lose their health and pension benefits.
“It’s Taj and the Ichan Group’s opinion that they would win the appeal,” Levinson said. “It’s also been rumored, as it was stated on the record by a Taj employee, that if they lose the appeal they may close.”
Hopes are for a decision this summer on that question.
Ichan is trading $286-million in debt into ownership of Trump Entertainment. He’s been spending millions to keep the Taj Mahal open and plans to spend up to a $100-million more to improve the place.