Billionaire Carl Icahn reached an agreement to sell the now-closed Taj Mahal Casino to a group of investors led by Florida-based Hard Rock International (HRI) for a reported $300 million.
According to The Press of Atlantic City, the casino will be rebranded to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, growing the number of casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, from seven back to eight.
The number of casinos was temporarily reduced to seven after the Trump Taj Mahal closed its doors in October 2016 putting over 2,000 employees out of work.
This represents the second time in less than a month that a rebranding has been announced for the property. In February, the property removed the U.S. President's name, Trump, from the name, transforming the Trump Taj Mahal into the Taj Mahal.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that "the purchase and renovation expected to create 3,000 temporary and permanent jobs."
HRI, who operates six casinos in Florida and 11 in total, said the acquisition could be a boost to the economy in Atlantic City.
“We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City, creating thousands of jobs to help local employment,” Hard Rock President and CEO Jim Allen said in a statement.
HRI already has a footprint in Atlantic City, just not in the casino business. The company currently operates one of its 172 Hard Rock Cafe restaurants in the Taj Mahal premises, despite the casino closing.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that the company continued to operate the restaurant, allowing 100 employees to keep their jobs, despite Allen reporting in November that it was losing “millions of dollars.”
Minority partners involved with the purchase include the Jingoli and Morris families.
“We’re excited to be part of such an important project for Atlantic City,” Joseph and Michael Jingoli said. “This project is led by a proven leader in gaming, brings hundreds of millions in new investment, creates hundreds of construction positions, countless positions within the Hard Rock Hotel and will bring thousands and thousands of new visitors to this great city.”
The city's administration also appears to welcome the investment by HRI.
“Now is the time to invest in our great city,” Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said. “The price is right. We need to bring back thousands of jobs for our Atlantic City residents and for South Jersey.”
Icahn will continue to remain in Altantic City. The billionaire currently owns the Tropicana Atlantic City as well as the now-closed Trump Plaza and previously expressed interest in just operating one casino in the city.
“A sale of the Taj Mahal therefore represents the optimal outcome for us,” Icahn said. “We wish Hard Rock and its partners the best of luck with the Taj Mahal.”
Lead image courtesy of Wikipedia.org.
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