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The Trump Taj Mahal Takeover and Other Casinos to Have Thrived Under New Ownership

Take a look at these casinos that have undergone transformations to return them to their former glory.


11 Jun 2016

When Donald Trump opened the Trump Taj Mahal hotel and casino in 1990, the venue was billed as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’.

Close to $1bn was spent over seven years getting the resort ready ahead of its grand opening and its 120,000 square feet of gaming space helped it become one of the highest-grossing casinos in Atlantic City.

The Taj was also the casino which housed the poker scene in the 1998 film Rounders, where the character played by Matt Damon successfully bluffed two-time World Series of Poker winner Johnny Chan.

However, it had been allowed to deteriorate in recent years until its takeover by billionaire Carl Icahn, who has bought its debt from a bankruptcy court. He did something similar with the Tropicana in Atlantic City in 2010.

Icahn suggested that he would allocate $100m towards the renovation and some repairs have already been carried out, including the turning back on of lights and fountains that had been off for years, new slot machines being added, live entertainment being back on the menu and a poker room being reopened.

The Taj is not the first casino to have benefited from changing ownership. Here are three others that have undergone similar, big-spending transformations:

Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino

When resurrected in the late 1960s, the International Hotel (as it was then known) was the largest hotel in the world.

Elvis Presley regularly performed sold-out shows and, even after it was renamed the Las Vegas Hilton after a 1971 buyout, it continued to stage some of the biggest shows in town. Liberace headlined more than once, while Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson were among those to box in world title fights.

Westgate Resorts have been the owners since 2014 and have overseen numerous renovations, while paying homage to many of the hotel’s roots.

A bronze statue of Elvis is on parade in the hotel lobby, some of the renovated rooms include artwork of the likes of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Meanwhile, there is now a larger casino, new restaurants, a ritzy pool deck and a SuperBook, bringing a stadium experience to watching sport on the TV.

The Cromwell

When the Barbary Coast opened as a themed casino in 1979, it is unlikely that anyone would have envisioned it one day becoming the first boutique hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Barbary Coast initially became Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon in 2007 before undergoing a major development in 2014 to take on its current stance as The Cromwell.

Although The Cromwell houses a 40,000 square foot casino, its main target audience is towards those with a greater focus on fashion and design than gambling.

The more personalised experiences that guests can expect include hair straighteners in the rooms, separate vanity areas to allow multiple people to get changed at once more easily and complimentary hot drinks by the lifts.

It may not be a casino that will appeal to the stag parties visiting Vegas or those in the town to hit the blackjack felts, but its niche appeal in a location where bigger is largely deemed better makes it a worthy addition to The Strip.

The D

Away from the Las Vegas Strip is Fremont Street, or Downtown as it is commonly known. The casinos in this area may not be as eye-catchingly huge, but they should appeal more to the keener gamblers because of the favourable playing conditions they offer.

Where The D is now stationed was known as The Sundance Hotel for much of the 1980s and then became the Irish-themed Fitzgeralds between 1987 and 2012.

Since then it has been simply been known as The D, which brings together Derek (the name of the co-owner), Detroit (where he is from) or Downtown (where the casino is housed).

The renovations have helped The D become far more modern, while the use of dancing dealers on some casino games and the instalment of the longest bar in Nevada have helped provide a unique selling point.

The D Casino also houses one of the last remaining Sigma Derby machines in Vegas, allows visitors to play on some incredibly vintage slot machines and was the first in Vegas to accept the virtual currency Bitcoin.