Atlantic City loses another casino hotel

(A worker strike at $100 million in losses prompts billionaire Carl Icahn to close the casino down.)

Atlantic City's Trump Taj Mahal is shutting down after 26 years of operation.

Billionaire businessman Carl Icahn owns the property, but decided the casino and hotel can no longer continue operating in the face of consistent and severe losses. In addition, the hotel has been besieged by a worker strike since July, with employees leaving their posts amid requests to restore health insurance and policies after a previous contract was terminated by a bankruptcy judge in 2014. The Taj's management company, Tropicana Entertainment, failed to come to an agreement with its workers over a new deal, stalling talks and leading to the property's eventual closure.

The strikes stem primarily from workers pushing for a restoration of benefits lost in a 2014 bankruptcy ruling.

Now, nearly 3,000 workers are out of a job in Atlantic City as yet one more casino hotel shutters its doors, but Icahn said the property was unsustainable as of late. Icahn claims he has lost as much as $100 million on the Taj Mahal over the past 18 months, and invested roughly $86 million in the property to keep it afloat since its bankruptcy in 2014.

"It was a bad bet," Icahn said in a statement. "How much good money do you throw after bad?"

"Our directors cannot just allow the Taj to continue burning through tens of millions of dollars when the union has singlehandedly blocked any path to profitability," said Tony Rodio, president of Tropicana Entertainment.

Unite-HERE's Local 54 union is responsible for the worker strike at the Taj, which is quickly becoming the longest casino worker strike in the city's history. The longest comparable strike was a 34-day walkout staged by workers against seven casinos in 2004. However, Atlantic City is a very different place today. With the Taj shutting down, the city is down to just seven working casinos after four closed shop in 2014, and existing venues may be sweating at an impending November vote to possibly approve two new casinos in northern New Jersey, outside of New York City.

No official date has surfaced for the property's closure, but union president Bob McDevitt said in a statement that 60-day warning notices for employees are required before termination. This means the earliest time the casino could close is October. In a statement, McDevitt called the cost of the healthcare and pension benefits his union was protesting for a "drop in the bucket" that Icahn can afford.

"The great deal-maker would rather burn the Trump Taj Mahal down just so he can control the ashes," McDevitt said. "In the end he'll have to live with what he's done to working people in Atlantic City."

In a counter-statement, Icahn questioned his obligation to the workers. " I give hundreds of millions to charity, but this is a business; it's not a charity," Icahn said. "They look at this as my responsibility, and I'm a bad guy if I don't give them what they want.