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Trump Casinos

The Art of the Reels

Chapter 11: Bankruptcy

Donald Trump’s hotel and casino empire spanned three states, four decades and six bankruptcies.What started in Atlantic City as a single high-stakes bet, developed to resemble a desperate gambler chasing his losses.

1. Trump Casino Management

There have been three main companies involved in the control and operation of Trump casinos since the 1980s, in addition to the individual properties and Donald Trump himself.

The Trump Organisation (TTO)

Originally Elizabeth Trump & Son. Held stakes in Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts and Trump Entertainment Resorts.

Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts (THCR)

Established to take control of Trump casino properties. Rebranded as Trump Entertainment Resorts following bankruptcy in 2004.

Trump Entertainment Resorts (TER)

Became a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises in 2016, following two bankruptcies. Donald Trump resigned as chairman in 2009.

2. The Casinos

The 1976 legalisation of casino gambling in Atlantic City led to an explosion of resorts along the boardwalk and within the marina district.Trump went on to run four casinos in New Jersey and another in Indiana.

He also managed (but did not own) an Indian casino in Coachella, California, financing a $60 million expansion as part of a planned five-year partnership. It was described on billboards as the place ‘Where the desert meets The Donald’.

The cards below only specify a ‘Cost to build’ amount if the casino was owned by Donald Trump prior to its original opening.

‘Cost to buy’ is used for casinos which previously operated under a different name and were later acquired byTrump, THCR or TER.

Trump Plaza

Trump’s Castle (later Trump Marina)

Trump Taj Mahal

Trump World’s Fair

Trump Casino

*Trump actually spent $106 million in year one, not the $153 million originally promised

Trump 29 Casino

*Casino since expanded to 250,000 square feet

3. Key Dates & Bankruptcies

Donald Trump has been directly involved in five separate casino-related bankruptcies (Chapter 11). He was also separately involved in a sixth bankruptcy case for his Plaza Hotel in NewYork (no relation to Plaza Casino) in 1988.

The timeline below lists an additional casino-related bankruptcy for Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2014, however Donald Trump’s remaining affiliation with the company at this time consisted mostly of a licensing agreement for the use of his name.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

A means by which a company can wipe debts, restructure and reorganise while remaining in business. Budgets and debt repayment plans are approved by bankruptcy courts, often resulting in shareholders losing a high proportion of equity.

“My basic attitude has always been that I want to do what is good for Atlantic City” Donald Trump to the Casino Control Commission, 1988

“I also, as I said before, don’t have to use junk bonds. I can use my own funds or I can use regular bank borrowings, so I can build at the prime rate.” Donald Trump to the Casino Control Commission, 1988

“Will the Taj work? It can’t miss. It’s like spitting and missing the floor.” Al Glasgow, publisher of gaming newsletter, Atlantic City Action, 1990

“When they approved gambling in Pennsylvania (in 2004), I said, it’s time to get out!” Donald Trump to The Daily Beast, 2014

4. Casino Licensing Around Atlantic City

When the Trump Plaza opened in 1984, casino gambling was illegal in the eight states directly surrounding New Jersey. By the time the Taj Mahal shut in 2016, casino gambling had since been legalised in all of these areas, with the exception of Virginia.

This, combined with the increasing emergence of online casinos, and new bingo sites, has been frequently blamed by Trump and others as the key cause of Atlantic City’s decline. It’s easy to see why:

1984 (Opening of Trump Plaza)

  1. New Jersey - Legal*
  2. New York - Not Legal
  3. Delaware - Not Legal
  4. Pennsylvania - Not Legal
  5. Virginia - Not Legal
  6. Connecticut - Not Legal
  7. Massachusetts - Not Legal
  8. Maryland - Not Legal
  9. Rhode Island - Not Legal

2016 (Closure of Taj Mahal)

  1. New Jersey - Legal*
  2. New York - Legal
  3. Delaware - Legal
  4. Pennsylvania - Legal
  5. Virginia - Not Legal
  6. Connecticut - Legal^
  7. Massachusetts - Legal
  8. Maryland - Legal
  9. Rhode Island - Legal

New Jersey casino licensing restricted to Atlantic City only / Connecticut casino licensing restricted to tribal casinos within self-governing Indian reservations.

5. Other Casino Closures

Donald Trump was not the only businessman to struggle in Atlantic City. Many other high-profile resorts closed during his time there, including the Sands Casino Hotel (2006) and the Claridge Hotel and Casino (now hotel only).

2014 was a particularly bad year, with a further three casinos closing:

The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel

The Atlantic Club was the sixth casino to open in Atlantic City and underwent many facelifts and ownership changes before eventually ceasing operations in 2014.

Showboat Atlantic City

In somewhat bizarre circumstances, Showboat Casino was closed in 2014 (despite being profitable), to help stabilise other Caesars Entertainment casinos in Atlantic City.

Revel Casino Hotel

The Revel Casino Hotel cost $2.4 billion to build and shut after just two years. It was acquired for $82 million in 2015 (3.5% of its original cost) and is set to reopen as TEN Atlantic City in 2017.

“I made a lot of money in Atlantic City. I almost feel guilty about it, but I made a lot of money in Atlantic City and I got out.” Donald Trump to The Daily Beast, 2014

View our full list of over 50 sources here.

Infographic created, researched and published by Online Bingo. March 2017.