Trump: Atlantic City casinos not for sale

Donald Trump will be holding on to his three Atlantic City casinos for a while longer. Trump, who had engaged in talks with potential buyers on at least two occasions last year, said that his the gambling halls are no longer for sale. „We’re not looking at that. We’re doing very nicely.“

Left unanswered was whether Trump had taken the casinos off the market, or whether a slowing economy and a credit crunch have cooled suitors’ interest in them. A message left at his office afterward was not immediately returned.

His company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, operates three casinos here: Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, and Trump Marina Hotel Casino.

According to year-end revenue figures released by the state Casino Control Commission, the Taj Mahal took in USD 508.5 million last year, good for fifth-best among the city’s 11 casinos. But Trump Plaza (USD 280.3 million) and Trump Marina (USD 241.9 million) ranked last and next-to-last among the city’s gambling halls.

Trump, who is chairman of the company but no longer exercises day-to-day control over its operations, spoke at a „topping-off“ ceremony for the Taj Mahal’s second hotel tower, in which the highest steel beam was hoisted into place atop the 467-foot building.

It is due to open by Labor Day weekend, and eventually will have 782 rooms.

The hotel tower is the key to Trump’s strategy to turn the company around and bring in higher rollers and cash-paying conventioneers. Part of what made the three casinos difficult to sell last year is the approximately USD 1.5 billion in debt that the company carries.

The second hotel tower will bring Trump’s total to about 3,670 rooms, around the same number as a new casino planned here by Revel Entertainment Group.

„We’re really happy with what’s happening with the Taj Mahal,“ Trump said. „It’s going to be spectacular. It’s going to have the finest rooms in Atlantic City, and it’s going to set a new standard in Atlantic City for quality and luxury.“

Governor Jon Corzine praised the Taj expansion, and said he is confident that a planned multi-billion-dollar wave of expansions and new casinos will come to fruition as the economy improves. Trump also reiterated his opposition to a smoking ban in Atlantic City casinos. The City Council is trying again to enact a ban at all 11 casinos, but would still permit non-gambling smoking lounges.

Last year, the council enacted a compromise law limiting smoking to no more than 25 percent of a casino floor. „It’s having a negative impact in Atlantic City,“ Trump said. „When you have people who have smoked for 45 years and all of a sudden they’re told they can’t anymore, they go to another casino in another state.“