Hard Rock
General Business

Grand Day for Atlantic City as Resort Town Officially Opens Two Casinos

The buzz was on the boardwalk in Atlantic City today as visitors from all over the tri-state area, as well as dignitaries and entertainers, got their first glimpse of two new casinos that celebrated their grand openings: The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and, separately, the Ocean Resort Casino.

Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam, as he spoke on the steps of the Ocean Resort Casino, said of this special occasion, “This is truly a monumental moment for Atlantic City. We are opening two casinos in one day … because we have partners committed to the community, not just the four walls of their establishments.

“We are creating history, and Atlantic City is truly back in the game,” Gilliam said. “This boardwalk you stand on has many stories to tell, but the new story to tell is that the [new casinos] are changing how we feel and how the market feels about Atlantic City and what the future of the city will be.”

The two casinos have breathed new life into the resort city, just from an employment perspective, alone. The town saw the closing of five casinos between 2014 and 2016 with the loss of more than 11,000 jobs.

However, the new casino investors didn’t lose site of the fact that Atlantic City is still the No. 2 gaming market in the Unites States, with 30 million visitors within a three-hour’s drive.

At a 9:30 a.m. press conference at the Hard Rock, Jim Allen, chairman and CEO of Hard Rock International, said the casino projects will create a new renaissance in the future and expansion of Atlantic City, bringing it back to being “one of the great entertainment cities in the US.”

Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminal Tribe of Florida, and the Morris and Jingoli families are partners in the Hard Rock Casino venture, buying the former Trump Taj Mahal for $50 million in April 2017 and undertaking $500 million worth of renovation work.

According to Allen, “This is a financially sound project. We do not have outside debt. We do not have to worry about bond holders or interest payments and all those thing that have, quite frankly, been part of Atlantic City’s troubling past.”

He then joked that Hard Rock International would not just “paint the casino and put guitars on the wall.” In fact, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which sits on 17 acres of prime Atlantic City Boardwalk real estate, boasts 2,000 guestrooms, 150,000 square feet of meeting space, and 119,657 square feet of gaming floor space. The latter includes 2,100 slots, 120 table games, more than 20 restaurants and lounges and entertainment venues such as the Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena (7,000 seating capacity), the beachside Sound Waves and the Howie Mandel Comedy Club.

It also includes a world famous Hard Rock Café and full-service Rock Spa and Salon, featuring 31 treatment rooms. The Hard Rock Café at the location is said to have the largest collection of rock ’n’ roll memorabilia when compared to any other Hard Rock Café on the planet.

The casino has hired 3,900 workers to date. According to Allen, the company had received more than 50,000 jobs applications. “That demonstrates two things: the excitement and the interest in our brand and the fact that there were a lot of people in the area looking for work,” he said.

“We specifically have 3,900 employees right now, but we are always looking for workers,” he said. “One of the great things about Hard Rock is that the industry turnover rate is 40 percent to 50 percent. The Hard Rock averages 19 percent to 22 percent … we are always looking for people to come work for us.”

Hard Rock will be making an announcement on sports betting within the next 30 to 60 days. According to Allen, “We are going to work within the guidelines of the New Jersey Department of Gaming and Enforcement (DGE). While there have been a few sports betting windows open in other casinos in Atlantic City, we understand that the market is more favorable for handheld devices. No one has that technology approved yet by the DGE, but we are in that process and will be making some announcements as far as how we are going to do that.”

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, also at the press conference, commented that Atlantic City has seen “some dark days, but we are on the rise, and we could not have done it without Hard Rock and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. We made some tough decisions on Atlantic City over the years, but they are all proving now that they work.”

Hard Rock International purchased the former Trump Taj Mahal from billionaire investor Carl Icahn. The Taj Mahal opened in 1990 at a cost of $1.1 billion. At that time, it was the tallest and most extravagant casino in Atlantic City. It was in operations for some 26 years, and was in and out of bankruptcy several times before it was purchased by Icahn, who also owns the Tropicana Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.

Meanwhile, the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City opened on the site that was once the $2.4-billion Revel Casino Hotel, which opened in April of 2012 and closed in September 2014.

The property was purchased by Bruce Deifik from Florida developer Glenn Straub for $200 million. Straub acquired the site for $82 million while it was in bankruptcy.

Deifik, a Colorado real estate developer, made an initial $10 million investment in the property without ever visiting Atlantic City, later putting in $70 million of his own equity. He then made $35 million in renovations at the resort, which offers 1,399 guestrooms, 130,000 square feet of gaming space, including some 2,000 slot machines, more than 100 table games and eight poker tables. Deifik plans to add another 600 rooms at the casino on 12 unfinished floors.

The facility also has 165,000 square feet in meeting and convention space, as well as a 5,700-seat concert hall with space for potential future expansion.  The property has an attached parking structure with 7,700 spaces.

The casino will also have a 7,500-square-foot sports book, operated by William Hill US, which is expected to open in five weeks. Sports betting is available at a temporary facility. Internet gaming, through partner GAN, is expected to be offered beginning July 1.

Ocean Resort Casino currently employs some 3,300 people. Between the two properties, 7,200 jobs have been created in the resort town.

Related Articles: