Florida's Seminole Tribe Buys Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City

Last October, Carl Icahn shut the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City after around two years of ownership in which he lost around $350 million. Around 4 months later, and the property has now been purchased by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In the meantime, Icahn still retains control over two other casinos in Atlantic City including the Tropicana, as well as the shuttered Trump Plaza.
Although the deal’s cost was not disclosed, the Seminole Tribe, which owns Hard Rock Cafe International, did say that it would be investing over $300 million in order to “purchase, substantially renovate and re-open the casino.” Commenting on its acquisition, Jim Allen, President of Seminole HR Holdings, stated:
“We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City creating thousands of jobs to help local employment. We are 100 percent convinced Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will be a success.”
While the Seminole Tribe has extended its operation to Atlantic City, back in its home state of Florida it is standing in the way of two bills currently in the legislature which are seeking to establish a new compact with the Tribe since the last one ran out in 2015.
At the heart of the disagreement is the Tribe’s claim that the State of Florida has breached its contract to allow them an exclusivity over blackjack games by permitting other non-tribal venues to offer certain gambling table games, some of which are similar to blackjack. On the one hand, a House bill is looking to offer the Seminoles control over blackjack games in return for them paying the state $3 billion over a seven-year period, while the Senate bill, SB 8, seeks to offer them other table games, such as roulette and craps, in return for the tribe losing its sole provider status over blackjack.
Commenting on the proposals, Seminole Tribal Council chairman Marcelius Osceola stated that the Senate bill meant the Tribe paying “the same higher payments, including a guarantee, agreed to in the 2015 compact, but would add numerous additional exceptions to the Tribe’s exclusivity,” while the House bill suggests “major increases in the Tribe’s payments, including a guarantee, but without providing the necessary additional value from the State.”

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