Trump’s Bid to Build Sydney’s First Casino Was Denied Over Mafia Links

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In 1987, Donald Trump tried to open the first casino in Sydney but was rejected because of his ties to the mafia, according to a cabinet report that was obtained by The Australian.

According to the secret report, which now has been declassified because 30 years have passed, the New South Wales police board warned the local government that it could be “dangerous” to allow Trump to open the casino. The public was not informed why at the time. The state government also dismissed two other bidders.

The story began when Australian company Kern Corporation, a developer of shopping centers, initiated contact with Trump. Trump was already experienced in the casino business. He had two casinos in Atlantic City and was working on a third–the Taj Mahal.

“The plan was for the Kern Corporation to build the casino, and for Trump to run it because he had the license and experience in Atlantic City,” said a businessman who took part in the negotiations at the time. He said that everyone had to undergo a police investigation but that he never knew anything about the alleged mob ties.

“Atlantic City would be a dubious model for Sydney and in our judgment, the Trump mafia connections should exclude the Kern/Trump consortium,” the report stated. It also said that Trump’s casino would be “dangerous.”

The report also concluded that Trump had exaggerated the projected revenue for the planned casino. “Projected casino revenue estimates are not soundly based and the quantum of the potential overstatement is so material that the tender is not financially viable,” the report said.

One of the critics of Trump’s casino idea was Fred Nile, a member of New South Wales upper house. He said he called the whole plan a “disaster” at the time and that he had concerns over the casino attracting organized crime and prostitution.

And media reports have linked Trump to the mafia for decades. In the 1980s, one of the contractors for the Trump Plaza was S&A Concrete, owned by Genovese mafia boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno. While building his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump leased land from a company controlled by two men associated with mob bosses. He later hired the latter, Daniel Sullivan, as a labor negotiator when building the Grand Hyatt Hotel. And in the early 2000s, twice-convicted Russian Felix Sater, with documented ties to the mafia, promoted Trump projects across the country and became a partner in Trump’s SoHo hotel.

Emma Von Zeipel
Emma Von Zeipel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. She is originally from one of the islands of Stockholm, Sweden. After working for Democratic Voice of Burma in Thailand, she ended up in New York City. She has a BA in journalism from Stockholm University and is passionate about human rights, good books, horses, and European chocolate. Contact Emma at



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