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Trump Entertainment to file for bankruptcy, again, putting Taj Mahal in jeopardy

From the foreground: Trump Taj Mahal Atlantic City,

From the foreground: Trump Taj Mahal Atlantic City, the Showboat Casino Hotel and Revel Atlantic City stand in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., on August 28, 2014. Credit: Bloomberg / Kevin P. Coughlin

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the casino company founded by Donald Trump, will file for bankruptcy again, according to people with knowledge of the situation, putting a fifth New Jersey casino in danger of closure.

The company, based in Atlantic City, owns two properties in the struggling resort town -- the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Plaza, which is scheduled to cease operations on Sept. 16. The Taj Mahal may also shut in mid-November, the people said. Three other casinos have closed in the city this year, including Caesars Entertainment Corp.'s Showboat and the Revel Casino Hotel last week.

The Trump properties are suffering from declining revenue due to new competition in the region, as well as high labor costs and real estate taxes. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other local leaders held a summit Monday to discuss Atlantic City's future.

Robert Griffin, chief executive of Trump Entertainment, declined to comment. Trump himself has no active role managing the company.

A bankruptcy court reorganization could give Carl Icahn two additional hotels in the city. Funds controlled by the New York-based billionaire are Trump Entertainment's largest creditor, according to public filings. He didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.


The filing could also set up a fight between Trump and Icahn in bankruptcy court. Trump filed a lawsuit last month asking that his name be taken off the properties. He licensed his brand to the company on a royalty-free basis as part of an earlier restructuring, according to public filings. The agreement prohibits him from using the Trump name for a gambling business in six East Coast states, including New York.

"It's not that we're demanding rights," Trump said in a telephone interview. "We just want the name taken off the building. We have the hottest hotel portfolio in the world right now. They are not operating the hotel in accordance with our very high standard."

Equity investors in Trump Entertainment include Avenue Capital Management, the New York-based hedge fund founded by Marc Lasry. Trump owns about 10 percent of the stock.

The Trump Taj Majal lost $35 million on revenue of $108 million in the first six months of this year, according to a filing with the state's Division of Gaming Enforcement. Trump Plaza showed a loss of $9.8 million on revenue of $28 million in the same period. That casino is closing after unsuccessfully searching for a buyer since 2011, according to a state filing.


Trump, the 68-year-old real estate tycoon and reality TV personality, began investing in Atlantic City in the early 1980s. His three casinos went through bankruptcy in the early 1990s, after opening the $1 billion Taj Mahal during a recession.

The entire company sought bankruptcy court protection in 2004 and in 2009, when Trump gave up the chairmanship.

Trump Entertainment sold the Trump Marina hotel to Landry's Inc. for $38 million in 2011. It has since been renamed the Golden Nugget.

The New York Post earlier reported a possible bankruptcy filing. CBS News previously reported on the Taj Mahal's closure.

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