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September 10, 2016

Stage set for closing Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City

Taj Mahal plans to close at 6 a.m. on Oct. 10

Billionaire Carl Icahn's management team is asking state gambling regulators for permission to shut down Atlantic City's Trump Taj Mahal casino next month, the Associated Press reports.

A formal petition asks the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for permission to close the casino.

Ichan says his venture is losing millions of dollars a month while the city's main casino workers union carries out a strike against it.

Because he announced on Aug. 4 his plan to close the casino and went nearly a month without formally asking regulators for permission to do it, some strikers began questioning whether Icahn truly planned to close it or whether the shutdown threat was a bluff to get the striking union to accept the casino's final offer.

The petition was filed Sept. 2 but wasn't made public until Friday.

The state's approval of shutdown plans is required before a casino can close. Similar petitions for the four casinos that shut down in 2014 all were approved.

The Taj Mahal plans to close at 6 a.m. on Oct. 10. But it wants to close down some table games beginning Sept. 26.

The main unresolved issue in the strike is a demand by Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union to restore health insurance and pension benefits that a bankruptcy judge terminated in 2014 before Icahn officially owned the Taj Mahal.

During the bankruptcy, Icahn has kept the casino afloat financially as its lender.

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, opened the Taj Mahal in 1990, one of three casinos he once owned here. But he cut most ties with Atlantic City in 2009 aside from a 10 percent ownership stake in the Taj Mahal's parent company in return for the use of his name.

Trump's stake was wiped out in March when Icahn acquired the casino from bankruptcy court.

The closure of Taj Mahal will leave Atlantic City with seven casinos; as recently as 2014, it had 12.

The closings killed thousands of jobs, rocked the real estate market, and killed tax collections throughout the region.