Hard Rock Atlantic City casino granted gaming license


hard-rock-atlantic-city-gaming-licenseIn the day’s least surprising news, casino operator Hard Rock International (HRI) has been officially cleared to land in Atlantic City.

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission (CCC) held a public meeting to discuss the likelihood of HRI being granted a gaming license before the scheduled June 28 opening of its AC property, Hard Rock Atlantic City (the former Trump Taj Mahal).

To virtually no one’s shock, the meeting was an anti-climactic affair, with the CCC commissioners wasting little time before lifting their rubber stamp and putting their seal of approval on HRI’s license application.

In pitching his company’s commitment to the market, HRI CEO James Allen told the CCC that the company “could have just re-carpeted” the Taj and slapped some music memorabilia on the wall, but instead opted for a $500m overhaul of the property because “we want to grow Atlantic City rather than just moving people from an existing facility.”

HRI, a venture of Florida’s Seminole Tribe, also announced its opening week entertainment lineup, which will include country music star Carrie Underwood on June 29th and hip-hopper Pitbull the following night. The property has budgeted $30m for entertainment in its first year to ensure a steady stream of traffic through its turnstiles.

HRI got some unwelcome news earlier this week when Colorado developer Bruce Deifik’s AC Ocean Walk announced that its new Ocean Resort Casino (the formerly bankrupt Revel) would also open on June 28, assuming its principals also pass the CCC’s suitability vetting.

Ocean Resort Casino has already enlisted God’s help to ensure it shares a better fate than Revel. The property will host a Wahlburgers restaurant, and investor Mark Wahlberg recently invited a local priest to tour the property and splash some holy water around. You know, because that worked so well for Linda Blair (or Wahlberg’s failed film The Gambler).

AC’s casino market witnessed the closure of five casinos starting with the Atlantic Club in January 2014, and the seven surviving operators have been enjoying a resurgence in profitability in the downsized market. Fears are high that the addition of two more casino options could spoil the profit party.

AC’s casinos are scheduled to announce their April results on Thursday. The previous two months have endured year-on-year revenue declines, due largely to recurring bouts of inclement weather. Tune in tomorrow to see if April’s showers brought May flowers.