What Really Happened With Donald Trump’s Atlantic City Casinos?

Splashy debuts and four bankruptcies, 30 years in the making.

This primary cycle, one accusation has particularly infuriated Donald Trump. As Carly Fiorina told him in the most recent Republican debate in September:

You know, there are a lot of us Americans who believe that we are going to have trouble someday paying back the interest on our debt because politicians have run up mountains of debt using other people’s money. That is in fact precisely the way you ran your casinos. You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people’s money, and you were forced to file for bankruptcy not once, not twice, four times.


Her attack line led to one of the angriest exchanges of the night, because it ran counter to Trump’s persistent claim that no, he has never gone bankrupt—he has simply used bankruptcy laws, smartly, to his companies’ advantage. But the full arc of Trump’s troubled time in the Atlantic City casino business proves unsurprisingly more complicated than any candidate’s sound bite. In the video above, Helaine Olen excavates Trump’s time in the would-be Vegas of the east, showing how his casinos failed—and what happened when Trump was finally forced to stop pretending they were a success.