Halloween comes at an earlier week for billionaire Carl Icahn as the bill aimed to prevent casino owners from “warehousing” their gaming licenses has passed the Senate.
Icahn has feared that the measure, sponsored by New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, will prevent him from either re-opening or selling the now shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino.
Press of Atlantic City reported that the Senate voted 29 – 6 in favor of the bill during Thursday’s session.
“Casino owners shouldn’t be manipulating the system and exploiting bankruptcy laws as a way to break unions and take away the rights and benefits of the workers,” Sweeney said, according to the news website. “Atlantic City’s gaming industry is obviously experiencing the difficult challenges of competition from other states, but the answer is not to engage in practices that punish the workers.”
Under the proposed measure, casino license applicants will be disqualified for five years should they be found to have “substantially” close a casino in the state.
But the camp of the billionaire casino investor has dubbed Sweeney’s bill as an “anti-Icahn casino shutdown bill.” Tony Rodio, who runs the Taj casino and Icahn’s Tropicana casino, pointed out that the measure, if it becomes a law, will retroactively go into effect on January 1, 2016.
He believes that Sweeney’s bill is nothing but a punishment for closing the beleaguered casino early this month since the bill will only apply to Icahn at this time, even though four other Atlantic casinos have shut down since 2014.
The four casinos that closed in 2014 were The Atlantic Club, Showboat, Revel and Trump Plaza.
“Punishing Mr. Icahn by revoking his ability to reopen the Taj or making further investments in Atlantic City for five years, as well as restricting his ability to sell the Taj, is unconscionable especially in light of his record in saving the Tropicana,” Rodio said. “It is particularly ill-advised because with this legislation Carl Icahn’s ability to further invest in Atlantic City has been constrained and the possibility of creating additional jobs, as he did at the Tropicana, has been seriously limited.”
Icahn ‘s only chance now is for Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has made criticism of some labor unions a key part of his political agenda, to junk the legislation.