The state Senate failed Monday to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that would have punished billionaire investor Carl Icahn for closing Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City. Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, put up the bill but pulled it before a final vote was recorded.
The legislation, originally passed in December, would strip a casino owner of their gaming license for five years if they shut down a casino’s operations after January 2016. The Senate was apparently motivated to draft the ordinance after Icahn closed the Taj in 2016 after he failed to draw up a new contract with union employees. Senate leaders feared he’d just reopen the casino resort with nonunion employees.
“It is a transparent attempt to punish the owner of the Taj Mahal casino for making the business decision to close its doors after its union employees went on strike and refused to negotiate in good faith,” Christie’s veto letter stated.
Christie called the bill an example of the legislature at its worse last week, and Icahn blasted Senate president Steve Sweeney for what he called Sweeney’s “irresponsible actions.” The Taj owner said he will sell the casino resort at a loss, if possible, pulling away from his initial plan to invest the $100 million to $200 million the space needs be functioning again.
The governor also condemned the bill as anti-business and a clear act of retaliation against business owners by the legislature.