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Donald Trump sues to strip his name from NJ casinos in 'disrepair'

By Daniel Kelley

(Reuters) - Donald Trump wants his name taken off two Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos he founded but no longer controls, saying in a lawsuit that they have become so dilapidated that they damage his brand image.

Trump says Trump Entertainment Properties, which owns and operates the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza, have let the casinos fall into “an utter state of disrepair,” said a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in New Jersey Superior Court.

The Plaza in particular, the lawsuit states, “has failed to meet industry standards across a wide range of categories, ranging from food and beverage services to overall cleanliness of the property.”

Trump founded the Plaza in 1984 and helped usher in a new era in Atlantic City, bringing in big name concert groups such as the Rolling Stones, along with high-profile boxers including heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

But like much of Atlantic City, the properties have since suffered from a decline in gambling revenue brought on by competition from neighboring states.

Trump's stake in Trump Entertainment Properties was wiped out when the firm filed for bankruptcy in 2009. He emerged from the reorganization with a 10 percent stake and a licensing agreement that allowed the properties to continue to use his name.

According to the lawsuit, Trump has no input in the casino's operations.

In July, Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City announced it would close in September, laying off 1,100 workers. Trump said he was given no prior notice of the layoffs, a move that added “insult to injury,” the lawsuit said.

The seashore casino is one of the poorest performers in Atlantic City, which began the year with 12 casinos. Trump Plaza booked less than half its rooms in the first quarter of 2014, and had the lowest gaming revenue of any of the city's casinos in May.

Its expected closure follows a series of blows for Atlantic City and could leave the city with a third fewer casinos than at the start of the year.

The Atlantic Club casino was sold and shut down in January. Showboat, one of Atlantic City's largest properties, has announced it will close at the end of August.

A bankruptcy auction is scheduled for Thursday for the $2.4 billion Revel casino, the city's newest, which has said it could close Aug. 18 if a buyer is not found. 

Neither the Atlantic Club, the Showboat nor the Revel are tied to Trump.

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