Report: Trump’s Atlantic City Empire Was One Big Fleece

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US-ECONOMY-ATLANTIC CITY
There's more than one way to get burned on the Jersey Shore.Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/This content is subject to copyright.

The New York Times is out with an extensive report about Donald Trump’s 25 years of business dealings in Atlantic City, dealings which the presidential candidate has cited as his golden era in the casino business, as well as one of the prime examples of his business (and free-world leadership) acumen, insisting that he is “very proud” of the enormous amount of money he made in the city. In fact, according to the Times report, the real estate mogul simply leveraged his name and reputation to promise greatness, but instead delivered financial catastrophe onto almost everyone involved but himself:

His audacious personality and opulent properties brought attention — and countless players — to Atlantic City as it sought to overtake Las Vegas as the country’s gambling capital. But a close examination of regulatory reviews, court records and security filings by The New York Times leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump’s casino business was a protracted failure. Though he now says his casinos were overtaken by the same tidal wave that eventually slammed this seaside city’s gambling industry, in reality he was failing in Atlantic City long before Atlantic City itself was failing.

But even as his companies did poorly, Mr. Trump did well. He put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments. The burden of his failures fell on investors and others who had bet on his business acumen.

The Times adds that Trump’s businesses seemed set up to fail, because he “assembled his casino empire by borrowing money at such high interest rates — after telling regulators he would not — that the businesses had almost no chance to succeed.” They also found that a component of one of the million-dollar transactions that benefited Trump — when he sold his shares of the Riviera Hotel and Casino in 2004 — may have even been illegal, though it was never investigated by authorities.

Looking at the deals and aftermath en masse, Trump’s profitable failures do indeed demonstrate his business prowess — provided that is the business of making himself rich at the expense of others. As a woman whose family business was nearly ruined by Trump’s leveraged-debt shell game summarized:

Trump crawled his way to the top on the back of little guys, one of them being my father. … He had no regard for thousands of men and women who worked on those projects. He says he’ll make America great again, but his past shows the complete opposite of that.