ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Developer Donald Trump, facing a legal limit on the number of New Jersey casinos one licensee may own, is seeking permission to close the Resorts International casino so he can open the gaming hall at the lavish new Taj Mahal, officials said Monday.
In a petition filed with the Casino Control Commission, Trump asked for approval to combine the hotel facilities at Resorts with those at Taj Mahal, a huge luxury casino hotel under construction on the Boardwalk next to Resorts.
Trump purchased a controlling interest in Resorts International Inc. for $79 million in July and gained control of Resorts International Casino Hotel, the Taj Mahal, a gambling property in the Bahamas and large tracts of real estate in Atlantic City.
When the Taj Mahal opens in about a year, Trump, who also owns Trump Plaza and Trump's Castle Hotel and Casino, would have four casinos in Atlantic City. Three is the maximum allowed by New Jersey law.
Observers had speculated for months about whether Trump would close the casino at the original Resorts -- the city's first -- or sell the entire casino-hotel to comply with the law.
Trump officials said the decision to close the casino at Resorts was a result of an analysis by the national accounting firm of Laventhol and Horwath.
The analysis projected that Resorts could make more money with the old hotel annexed to the Taj Mahal than it could by operating just one of the hotels.
'The efficiencies associated with the use of (Resorts) without a casino, as a supporting facility to the Taj, more than overcome the reduced revenues in that scenario to result in higher profits,' the report said.
The Taj Mahal, a project that may cost up to $750 million by the time it is completed, will have a casino of up to 120,000 square feet. The casino floor at Resorts is 60,000 square feet.
If the Casino Control Commission approves the request, Trump officials said the existing casino at Resorts would be converted into convention space.
The petition, filed jointly by Trump and Resorts corporate executives, said closing the existing Resorts casino would ease the impact of the opening of the huge Taj Mahal on the rest of the industry, relieve potential employee shortages and help make the city more attractive to larger conventions because of the added convention space.