Trump Brags About Atlantic City “Success” in Debate
There was a bit of a South Jersey in last night’s debate. Trump was asked about his eponymous Atlantic City casinos, which have suffered through several bankruptcies. Trump responded by saying he did good in AC:
The difference is, when somebody else uses those laws, nobody writes about it. When I use it, they say, ‘Trump, Trump, Trump.’ The fact is, I built a net worth of more than $10 billion. I have a great, great company. I employ thousands of people. And I’m very proud of the job I did. […]
And I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City, which by the way, Caesars just went bankrupt. Every company, Chris can tell you, every company virtually in Atlantic City went bankrupt. Every company.
And let me just tell you. I had the good sense, and I’ve gotten a lot of credit in the financial pages, seven years ago I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered, and I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I’m very proud of it. I want to tell you that. Very, very proud of it.
This is not the first time Trump has talked up his business acumen regarding Atlantic City. Just after Revel closed last year, Trump complained he wasn’t getting enough credit for getting out of Atlantic City when he did.
After much success in the 1980s, Trump first got into trouble in Atlantic City around the time he opened the Trump Taj Mahal. Cost overruns led to the “Eighth Wonder of the World” casino looking chintzy when it opened. Contractors weren’t paid. According to Temples of Chance, a book on the Atlantic City casino industry by former Inquirer reporter David Johnston, the Taj Mahal bankruptcy cost Trump real estate, his yacht, his private plane and his helicopter.
The Trump Plaza then filed for bankruptcy, a move that cost Trump any role in the day-to-day operations of that hotel. He reduced his stake in his Atlantic City casinos to 25 percent. His share eventually dropped much lower when he resigned from the company in 2009, when he resigned from the board during a dispute with bondholders. He still owns a share, and struck a deal to keep his name on the sole remaining casino his old company owns, the Trump Taj Mahal.
Trump did get out of Atlantic City, but not in a desirable way. He wasn’t Steve Wynn, selling high and using the money to transform Las Vegas. Trump got out of Atlantic City because his casinos filed for bankruptcy. He did, personally, make a lot of money in Atlantic City. But his casinos are now, essentially, failures. (His old Trump casino at the marina is now the resurgent Golden Nugget; it’s owned by the same company that owns the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company chain.) His casinos made him even more of a celebrity, which helped pave the way for his prime time Apprentice series. Atlantic City worked out for him. But he has nothing to brag about here.
But, hey, if the presidential bid doesn’t work out, he talked about getting back into Atlantic City less than a year ago. Maybe he could give it another go. There’s always time to turn it around for real!