Lawmakers in New Jersey have moved forward a bill that would prevent casino owners who have closed down properties from re-entering the NJ gaming market for five years.

The measure is aimed at aimed squarely at casino magnates with a penchant for manipulating bankruptcy laws for their own benefit, while busting local labor unions.

According to a report on The Press of Atlantic City, the proposed law would apply to casino license holders who, “substantially,” close an Atlantic City casino.

Lawmakers are looking to prevent casino owners from shutting down a property that’s in the midst of a labor dispute and re-opening it a few years down the line with fewer employees earning lower wages than their predecessors. The practice of shelving a casino, and its license, like this is known as warehousing.

While warehousing isn’t particularly common in Atlantic City, lawmakers are concerned that warehousing is exactly what Taj Mahal owner Carl Icahn had in mind when he announced he would be closing down the troubled property.

Taj Mahal’s union workers have been on strike since July 1, Icahn sent notice of the closure on August 5. It’s expected that the casino’s doors will shut for good on October 5.

Members of Local 54, the union that’s striking at the casino, support the bill as a measure to prevent double dealing by Icahn and other casino owners. Ben Begleiter, research director for the union told the Press of Atlantic City:

This bill is good public policy because it creates a disincentive for casino owners who might want to avoid any sort of perceived temporary problem by closing a casino with a plan to reopen it at a later date. One could easily imagine any of a series of possibilities in which an owner might choose to temporarily close.

If passed into law, the bill would be applied retroactively as of January, 2016.


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