Atlantic City has already witnessed the closure of four casinos since 2014 and will lose its fifth casino on October 10 when the Trump Taj Mahal casino shutsdown for good. Billionaire Carl Icahn decided to close the iconic casino as it was leaking millions every month and also due to continuous problems with the Local 54 Unite Here.
However the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal casino is not expected to have a major impact on overall gross gaming revenues (GGR) in Atlantic City and state lawmakers also confirm that it will not impact the PILOT money paid to the city. The PILOT bill allows Atlantic City to receive $120 million on a yearly basis from the city’s casinos and is valid for a 10 year period. The bill states that when overall gross gaming revenue is over $2.2 billion, the casinos must remit a combined payment of $120 million to Atlantic City.
In 2015, the eight casinos in Atlantic City generated GGR’s of $2.4 billion and the Trump Taj Mahal’s contributed just $180 million to the collective GGR. State lawmakers are confident that the closing of the Trump Taj Mahal will not impact overall GGR and cause it to fall below $2.2 billion. Mayor Don Guardian stated that the chances of the PILOT payment being reduced are highly unlikely since the Taj was making less than $200 million. Guardian stated that the remaining seven casinos will have to increase their payments to make up the $120 million.
While the casino industry in Atlantic City has continued to struggle for the last decade, the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal is not expected to impact the industry in a significant way as the remaining seven casinos will most likely absorb gaming and non-gaming customers from the Taj. Moody’s Investors Service also confirmed that the remaining casinos will take a share of the business that the Taj Mahal lost but did not entirely agree with the fact that PILOT payments would continue to be the same.
In a statement, Douglas Goldmacher, an analyst from Moody’s Investors Service said “Although we expect other casinos in Atlantic City will capture a portion of the Trump Taj Mahal’s revenue, citywide gambling revenue is likely to decline. This, in turn, could have a knock-on effect on the city as the casinos’ payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) can fluctuate depending on total casino revenues.”
An amendment to the PILOT bill which was supported by Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic states that if GGR falls below $2.2 billion, then all revenue generation streams such as entertainment, food and beverages and other non-gaming revenue generation services will be taken into account to offset the decline in GGR. This would essentially ensure that Atlantic City will continue to receive its $120 million PILOT payment.