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Donald Trump gambles on new tower in Atlantic City

Sep 30, 2008 6:59 PM

by Ray Poirier | Without looking for a handout from the federal government, says Donald Trump, he is gambling that a new tower at Taj Mahal Casino Resort, the flagship of Trump Entertainment Resorts (TRMP) in Atlantic City, will help the company withstand the impact of a slowdown in the economy.

"The economy is horrendous, the worst since 1929," he was quoted as saying. And as much as his free-market capitalist feelings hate the idea, he saw the need for Congress to bail out the financial system.

But, he says, he would rather gamble on his new tower that opens this week.

The timing for a turnaround could not be better. The company is $1.67 billion in debt and it is selling the Trump Marina to Richard Fields, his former partner in Florida casino developments and the majority owner of Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston, Massachusetts.

Heavily impacting Atlantic City revenues, in addition to the economy, has been competition from slots parlors in Pennsylvania, New York and even Connecticut, and a smoking ban that takes effect next month.

"There’s tremendous competition in Atlantic City, and the smoking ban is going to be a disaster," Trump said, adding, "That’s why we’re excited about the tower. We think it’s going to do extremely well."