Atlantic City’s two new casinos jump the gun on opening day


atlantic-city-hard-rock-ocean-resort-casinos-openLike kids demanding to open their presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning, Atlantic City’s two new/old casinos opened their doors to the public one day ahead of schedule.

Both the Hard Rock Atlantic City and the Ocean Resort Casino were scheduled to open to the public by mid-day Thursday but both venues decided to throw caution to the wind after the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement authorized their launch by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

The Hard Rock (the revamped Trump Taj Mahal) began welcoming gamblers around 3pm, while the Ocean Resort (the de-mothballed Revel) followed suit less than an hour later. Both properties insist their scheduled grand openings will go ahead as planned although the allure of these events has obviously been muted somewhat.

Todd Moyer, the Hard Rock venue’s senior VP of marketing, told the Associated Press that last-minute preparations for the grand opening were still underway, “but the heavy lifting has been done.”

The music-themed Hard Rock is planning a celebrity-filled launch party complete with a ceremonial mass guitar smashing on the Boardwalk at 11am to officially christen the venue. Carrie Underwood and Pitbull are slated to perform at the venue this weekend, while Thursday’s opening will culminate in a fireworks show on the Boardwalk at 9pm.

The Ocean Resort might not have plans to dynamite any sousaphones in the offing, but they will have an amenity that the Hard Rock won’t: sports betting. Work is still ongoing on the Ocean Resort’s 7,500-square-foot permanent sportsbook but the property’s sports betting partner William Hill US will have a temporary book open for wagering on day one.

The Hard Rock has said it’s leaning towards opening its own sports book and Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen said this week that the company was preparing to announce its own betting partnership, but offered no timeline for when wagering might commence.

The excitement over this week’s opening celebrations, which will include a beach concert on Sunday, is expected to draw up to 1m tourists to Atlantic City over the four-day stretch. It’s the kind of hubbub that AC hasn’t enjoyed all that often in recent years, which saw the original 12 casinos dwindle to seven before new operators breathed life back into two of the shuttered venues.

Not everyone is celebrating the new arrivals. AC’s seven surviving venues had enjoyed a surge in profitability in the downsized (some say right-sized) market, and it remains to be seen if the market can support two more properties.