Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
|Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City|
A giant greeting sign at the main entrance of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
|Location||Atlantic City, New Jersey|
|Opening date||April 2, 1990 (as Trump Taj Mahal), June 27, 2018 (as Hard Rock)|
|Closing date||October 10, 2016 (as Trump Taj Mahal)|
Taj Mahal, India (1990–2016)|
Rock and Roll (2018–present)
|No. of rooms||2,010|
|Total gaming space||167,000 square feet (15,500 m2)|
|Permanent shows||Mark G. Etess Arena, The Theater, Ego Lounge, Blue Velvet Theater, Scores|
|Signature attractions||Steel Pier|
|Notable restaurants||Hard Rock Cafe, Council Oak Fish, The Sugar Factory, Fresh Harvest Buffet, Il Mulino, Song Chinese Restaurant, The Flavor Tour, Dynasty, Robert's Steakhouse, White House Sub Shop, Maharaja Express & Salad Express, Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy, Youyu Noodle Bar, Trattoria Il Mulino, Plate American Cafe|
Trump Entertainment Resorts (1995-2016)|
Hard Rock International (2018-present)
|Operating license holder||Seminole Tribe of Florida|
Resorts Taj Mahal (pre-opening)|
Trump Taj Mahal
|Renovated in||2008, 2018|
|Coordinates||39.3587° N, 74.4198° W|
The casino, originally known as the Trump Taj Mahal, was inaugurated by its then-owner Donald Trump in 1990, and was built at a total cost of nearly $1 billion USD. Originally Restaurants at the Taj Mahal included Hard Rock Cafe, Sultan's Feast, Dynasty, Il Mulino New York, Moon at Dynasty, and Robert's Steakhouse. It was also the home of Scores, the country's first in-casino strip club.
The Taj Mahal came to the brink of closure in 2014 as its parent company went through bankruptcy, but ultimately remained open under the new ownership of Icahn Enterprises. In 2015, the Taj Mahal admitted to having “willfully violated” anti-money-laundering regulations for years and was fined $10 million. It was the highest penalty ever levied by the U.S. federal government against a casino. On August 3, 2016, it was announced that the Trump Taj Mahal would close after Labor Day, because of casino workers on strike. It was closed on October 10, 2016.
On March 1, 2017, the Seminole Tribe of Florida through its Hard Rock International brand, and the Morris and Jingoli families, announced its purchase of the facility and conversion to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino brand. It reopened on June 27, 2018.
Construction of what was originally known as the Taj Mahal commenced in 1983 by Resorts International, owner of the neighboring Resorts Casino Hotel, with an estimated budget of $250 million. Resorts head James Crosby said it might be named the United States Hotel, in reference to the city's first major hotel.
After Crosby's death in April 1986, Resorts International became a takeover target. The Taj Mahal had encountered construction problems, and Crosby's heirs, lacking experience in large development projects, doubted their ability to complete it successfully. Donald Trump, who owned two other Atlantic City casinos, beat out several other bidders to purchase a controlling stake in the company for $79 million in July 1987. Trump was appointed chairman of Resorts International, and said he would complete the Taj Mahal in about a year.
As the total budget had ballooned to $930 million, Resorts sought to raise $550 million to complete the Taj Mahal, but struggled to find the financing. With the company claiming to be near bankruptcy in early 1988, Trump made a tender offer to buy all outstanding stock for $22 a share, stating that he was willing to personally finance the construction, but only if he owned the entire company. Television producer Merv Griffin made an unexpected offer to purchase the company for $35 a share, sparking a highly publicized takeover battle, with Trump and Griffin filing lawsuits against each other. The two ultimately reached a settlement, which was executed in November 1988, with Griffin purchasing the company, and Trump purchasing the Taj Mahal from the company for $273 million.
The casino opened on April 2, 1990. With 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2) of gaming space, it claimed to be the largest casino in the world (though this was disputed by the Riviera), and billed itself as the "eighth wonder of the world". An elaborate grand opening ceremony was held three days later.
In 1991, the Taj Mahal went through a prepackaged bankruptcy, resulting in Trump giving a 50 percent stake in the business to its bondholders in exchange for lowered interest rates and a longer payoff schedule.
Trump's new publicly traded company, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, purchased the Taj Mahal in 1996, in a transaction that valued the property at $890 million. In the 1990s, Trump's Taj Mahal casino was "the world's largest, most flamboyant casino" and Trump took on an "enormous amount of debt" to launch it. During eighteen months after its April 2, 1990 opening, when the Casino was on the verge of bankruptcy, it became the "preferred gambling spot for Russian mobsters living in Brooklyn, according to federal investigators who tracked organized crime in New York City".
On Monday, October 10, 2016, the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino was shut down after the chaos of casino workers on strike. The Hard Rock Cafe remains open.
Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy on September 10, 2014, and announced plans to close the Taj Mahal on November 13 if the casino did not get concessions from its unions. A sister property, the Trump Plaza, did close in 2014.
Workers from the casino marched to Mayor Don Guardian's office on the morning of November 3, 2014 to ask him to reconsider granting concessions, which the casino said were necessary to remain open. About 1,000 employees signed a petition calling on the mayor and other officials "to do everything possible" to keep the casino open. At the time, four of twelve casinos in Atlantic City had closed and Trump Taj Mahal would have been the fifth if it were to close.
In filing a revised reorganization plan in Delaware bankruptcy court, Trump Entertainment Resorts said its board had approved a shutdown of the casino by December 12, 2014. The shutdown date was later pushed back to December 20. On December 18, two days before the scheduled closure, UNITE HERE reached a deal with Trump Entertainment Resorts that saved the Taj from closing. The same day, billionaire Carl Icahn committed $20 million in financing for the Taj.
In February 2016, Trump Entertainment Resorts exited bankruptcy and became a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises. The casino retained the name "Trump Taj Mahal", though Donald Trump no longer held any ownership stake. In April, another Icahn affiliate, Tropicana Entertainment, took over the property under a management agreement. Icahn also stated he would withhold a planned $100-million investment into the property if New Jersey approved casinos in the northern region of the state.
On Monday, October 10, 2016, the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino was shut down. After the closing on that date, one UNITE HERE leader raised the possibility that the casino would remain closed over the winter but will reopen in Spring 2017 as a non-union facility, an attempt that he said would try to prompt a union boycott. On March 1, 2017, Hard Rock International announced plans to spend $300 million to purchase the resort and renovate it, It re-opened as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on June 28, 2018. In the meantime, the Hard Rock Cafe within the building, which is located at the boardwalk, remains open, despite the closure of the rest of the building. The company that owns the restaurant has since announced its acquisition of the entire complex.
On November 14, 2014, Trump Entertainment Resorts announced that the casino would shut down in December unless its main union, UNITE HERE, dropped its appeal of a court-ordered cost-savings package, which had effectively cancelled the workers' health insurance and pension coverage. However, it was revealed that the closing was to happen because it has not received the state and local tax breaks it sought.
Over its years of operation—1990–2016—the Trump Taj Mahal was "repeatedly cited for having inadequate money-laundering controls, not an unusual charge in the gaming business".
In February 2015, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network settled an investigation of Trump Taj Mahal with the assessment of a $10 million civil fine for "significant and long-standing money laundering violations" which were described as "willful and repeated" contraventions of the record-keeping and reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act. It was the highest penalty ever levied by the feds against a casino.
The casino agreed to periodic external audits to comply with anti-money laundering statutes, and admitted to multiple violations as part of its settlement. The U.S. Treasury made note of casino violations dating back to 1998, when Trump Taj Mahal paid a $477,700 fine for violating currency transaction requirements, as well as violations in 2003, 2010, and in 2012, for which the company was "repeatedly warned". Trump Taj Mahal was "far from meeting" standards required to protect the U.S. financial system "from exploitation from criminals, terrorists, and other bad actors", the Treasury said in a press release.
In 2017, CNN obtained access to Treasury Department documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which included the 1998 and the 2015 settlement.
Links to organized crime
The 1992 U.S. Senate Subcommittee 218-page report entitled "Asian Organized Crime: the New International Criminal", linked Trump's businesses to Asian organized crime.
Specifically the Senate subcommittee named Danny Sau Keung Leung, who had been Trump Taj Mahal's VP Foreign Marketing since 2000, as an associate of the Hong Kong-based organized crime group 14K Triad" linked to "murders, extortions and heroin smuggling". Leung worked at Trump Taj Mahal from 1990 to 1995. He was "known by law enforcement to be linked to organized crime syndicates" and was investigated by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1995 with hearings in Atlantic City regarding his "background and character". "Mentions of Trump businesses" were "sprinkled throughout the 1992 Senate report on "Asian organized crime in the United States". "Crime bosses who ran the Chinatown bus system put together trips to Trump businesses in Atlantic City. "[O]ther people with links to organized crime booked shows at Trump venues and in 1987, one was indicted on a charge of providing kickbacks to executives at Trump Castle." According to an Internal Revenue Service report cited in a 2016 Politifact article by Linda Qui, Trump also worked closely with other members and associates of organized criminal enterprises, including Danny Leung, Felix Sater, Salvatore Testa, and Kenneth Shapiro".:5 In 1984, Canadian police had identified Leung as "a major player in Toronto organized crime", yet in 1989, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission granted him the casino "key license reserved for executives" and he began working for Trump Taj Mahal in 1990. At the New Jersey Casino Control Commission hearing in 1994, Trump sent Taj President Dennis Gomes to "testify on Leung's behalf at the hearing New Jersey Casino Control Commission. In spite of an objection of the Division of Gaming Enforcement and the testimony of Canadian police, his casino key license was renewed. "Leung's lawyer, Guy Michael said, that the criminal allegations were "absolutely untrue. In August 2013, Leung requested to be placed on the Casino Key Employee Inactive List in August 2013 "in lieu of complying with the resubmission process".:20
On May 27, 2009, Ray Kot, a casino shift manager, was shot and killed by 57-year-old Mark Magee of Norristown, Pennsylvania. Magee claimed that he killed Kot because casino executives at the Trump Taj Mahal had conspired to cheat players by manipulating the outcome of the table games. On August 11, 2010, Magee was convicted of murder and was given a minimum 30-year sentence at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. He is tentatively scheduled to be released on May 28, 2039, at the age of 87. On October 16, 2010, a small park on the Trump Taj Mahal property was created and dedicated to the memory of Kot.
On September 18, 2011, a man was shot dead and a woman was wounded during an apparent carjacking inside the parking garage of the casino. The man, 28-year-old Sunil Rattu, and the woman, 24-year-old Radha Ghetia, were held up as they left the casino, and then forced to drive to a nearby alley where Rattu was shot dead, while Ghetia was shot in the upper part of her body. Ghetia was treated for her injuries and later recovered.
On March 24, 2016, three teenagers attending a party in a hotel room on the forty-seventh floor were shot. Seven suspects were arrested in connection with the incident.
Trump Taj Mahal had a loyalty card similar to most casinos. The club had four levels:
- TrumpOne: Free to all members age 21 and older
- Executive: 4,000 tier points in a calendar year required
- Chairman: 10,000 tier points in a calendar year required
- Signature: 70,000 tier points in a calendar year required
Hard Rock plans
After the March 2017 announcement that Florida-based Hard Rock, which manages gambling and resort operations for the Seminole Indian tribe, bought the Casino from Carl Icahn, Hard Rock International detailed plans to spend $325 million in refurbishing. The new property will feature two separate arenas with seating totaling 7,000 and 2,400 more slot machines. The property reopened on June 27, 2018.
- "Press Kit" (PDF). Trump Taj Mahal. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "Hard Rock International Announces Partnership with Morris and Jingoli Families to Purchase Atlantic City's Taj Mahal". Hard Rock International. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
- "Taj Mahal Casino Closing". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
- Anne McGrath (October 27, 1983). "Ground broken for Resorts' 2d N.J. casino-hotel". Philadelphia Inquirer. AP – via NewsBank.
- Richard Koenig (April 19, 1988). "Trump, man of glitz, is forced to cut back at Taj Mahal casino". Wall Street Journal. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- Donald Janson (November 6, 1983). "Resort wasteland: Change is in sight". New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- "Resorts International receives takeover offer to rival Trump's". Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. March 25, 1987. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- John Crudele (March 10, 1987). "Trump buys 73% stake in Resorts for $79 million". New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
- Joyce A. Venezia (July 22, 1987). "Trump completes the deal for Resorts International". Philadelphia Inquirer. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- "Trump wants to close casino at Resorts International". UPI. October 12, 1987. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
- Donald Janson (December 17, 1987). "Trump wins approval to shift Resorts license". New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
- "Trump offers to buy rest of Resorts' common stock". Los Angeles Times. Reuters. December 22, 1987. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
- Frank Allen (February 2, 1988). "Trump renews his push to take Resorts private". Wall Street Journal. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- Al Delugach (March 18, 1988). "Griffin takes on Trump for Resorts shares". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
- "Takeover battle ends for Trump, Griffin". Chicago Tribune. AP. April 15, 1988. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
- Eileen White Read; Richard Koenig (March 22, 1988). "Merv Griffin sues to block Trump offer for Resorts, says he may boost his own". Wall Street Journal. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- Beatrice E. Garcia (November 16, 1988). "Trump completes the sale of Resorts to Merv Griffin". Wall Street Journal. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- David Johnston (November 16, 1988). "It's done: Griffin buys Resorts from Trump". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- Robert O'Harrow Jr. (January 18, 2016). "Trump's bad bet: How too much debt drove his biggest casino aground". Washington Post. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- Daniel Heneghan (April 3, 1990). "Taj: open sesame!". Press of Atlantic City – via NewsBank.
- "Trump cites Taj's 'grandeur' while playing down its size". Press of Atlantic City. AP. April 3, 1990 – via NewsBank.
- Daniel Heneghan (April 5, 1990). "For Trump's Taj Mahal, only big will do". Press of Atlantic City – via NewsBank.
- Daniel Heneghan (April 6, 1990). "Trump opens Taj with flourish". Press of Atlantic City – via NewsBank.
- "Chapter 11 for Taj Mahal". New York Times. Reuters. July 18, 1991. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- "Taj Mahal is out of bankruptcy". New York Times. October 5, 1991. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- David Cay Johnston (January 9, 1996). "Trump moves to put Taj Mahal in his company". New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- Form 8-K: Current Report (Report). Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. May 2, 1996. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- Pagliery, Jose (May 22, 2017). "Trump's casino was a money laundering concern shortly after it opened". CNN Investigates. CNN. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Augenstein, Seth. "Nation's first casino strip club coming to Atlantic City" in The Star-Ledger (July 4, 2013). Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- Parry, Wayne (August 27, 2013). "A.C.'s Taj Mahal looks to score with strip club". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on August 30, 2013. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- "City Loses Trump Taj Mahal After 26 Years". latestcasinobonuses.com. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
- Writer, Staff (September 9, 2014). "Trump Entertainment files for bankruptcy; Taj Mahal could close in November". www.nj.com/. Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
- "Trump Taj Mahal employees issued layoff notices ahead of possible November closure". NJ.com.
- Pempus, Brian (February 29, 2016). "Trump Taj Mahal Casino Emerges From Bankruptcy". www.cardplayer.com. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
- "Casino workers to give Atlantic City mayor petition to reconsider aid to keep Taj Mahal open". Fox Business. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
- Maggie McGrath. "As Deal To Save Trump Taj Mahal Falls Through, Icahn Pledges $20 Million In Financing". Forbes.
- Parry, Wayne (February 26, 2016). "Trump Taj Mahal Casino Out of Bankruptcy, Into Carl Icahn's Hands". Associated Press. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
- Form 10-Q: Quarterly Report (Report). Tropicana Entertainment. May 3, 2016. p. 15 – via EDGAR.
- Joshua Jamerson (March 2, 2016). "Tropicana to manage Trump Taj Mahal; Icahn chides N.J. Leaders". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- "No money for Taj Mahal if New Jersey casinos are approved". www.gamblinginsider.com. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- "City Loses Trump Taj Mahal After 26 Years". latestcasinobonuses.com. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
- Parry, Wayne (October 10, 2016). "Donald Trump: 'No reason' for Taj Mahal casino shutdown (updated)". CDC Gaming Reports. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
- Huba, Nicholas. "Hard Rock unveils $375 million plans for Taj Mahal". Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- Rosenberg, Amy S.; Moran, Robert (March 1, 2017). "Hard Rock in deal to buy Trump Taj Mahal". Philly.com. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- Horridge, Kevin (November 15, 2014). "Trump Taj Mahal to Close in New Jersey, Union Demands at Fault, Say Owners". www.casino.org. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
- Parry, Wayne. "APNewsBreak: Papers Filed to Close Trump Taj Mahal". ABC News. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- Zarroli, Jim (May 15, 2017). "Looking Into Trump Campaign's Russia Ties, Investigators Follow The Money". Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Brickley, Peg (February 11, 2015). "Trump Taj Mahal Settles Over Anti-Money-Laundering Violations". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- "FinCEN Fines Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort $10 Million for Significant and Long-Standing Money Laundering Violations" (PDF). U.S. Department of the Treasury: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). March 6, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- Craig Unger (July 13, 2017). "Trump's Russian Laundromat. How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House". The New Republic. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
- "Trump Taj Mahal casino settles U.S. money laundering claims". Fortune. February 11, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- Asian Organized Crime: the New International Criminal (PDF) (Report). the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate. 1992. p. 218. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Qiu, Linda (March 2, 2016). "Yes, Donald Trump has been linked to the mob". Politifact. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Gordy, Molly (September 25, 1995). "Trump Supports Casino Suspect". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Bump, Philip (October 31, 2016). "A quick review of 40 years of investigations into Donald Trump and his businesses". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Internal Revenue Service Information Referral and Complaint against Donald Trump (PDF) (Report). April 2016. p. 6. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Key Licenses Inactivity List (PDF) (Report). New Jersey Casino Control Commission. August 8, 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- "Taj Mahal Shooter Gets 30 Years Behind Bars". NBC 10 Philadelphia. August 11, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Man admits killing casino worker.
- "Attention". state.nj.us. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011.
- "Deadly Atlantic City carjack". New York Post. September 18, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Milo, Paul (March 30, 2016). "7 arrested in connection with shooting at Trump Taj Mahal". www.nj.com. NJ Advance Media. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
Police responded to the 47th floor of the hotel on a report of shots fired at a party with about 20 people in attendance. Two teenage victims of the shooting were immediately identified after they arrived at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening wounds... On Monday, a 15-year-old who police said had a loaded weapon in his waistband was arrested...he too had been shot during the party and was treated.
- "About One Card". trumpcasinos.com. Archived from the original on August 4, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
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