Casino operator Hard Rock International (HRI) has replaced the president of its new Atlantic City venue just a few months after the property opened its doors.
Late Monday, the Press of Atlantic City reported that the Florida-based HRI had replaced Hard Rock Atlantic City president Matt Harkness with industry veteran Joe Lupo (pictured). No reason was provided for the executive shuffle, which will officially take place on November 1.
HRI’s COO Jon Lucas thanked Lucas for his work in overseeing the “successful” transformation of the former Trump Taj Mahal into the new Hard Rock Atlantic City. Harkness is being reassigned to unspecified “new responsibilities” within the HRI family.
Lupo, who currently serves as president of HRI’s Seminole Hard Rock casino property in Tampa, joined HRI in January 2017 after a 13-year stint as senior VP at Atlantic City’s market-leading Borgata Casino Hotel.
HRI CEO Jim Allen hailed Lupo as “a talented and proven leader,” both in his current role and his former Borgata tenure, having created “significant property success in both markets.”
The June openings of Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino (the former Revel) were heralded as signaling the rebirth of Atlantic City after several years of relentlessly negative headlines, including the closure of five of its 12 gaming venues.
In late August, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement reported that AC casinos generated net revenue of $1.3b in the three months ending June 30, a 0.3% decline from Q2 2017’s result, while combined gross operating profit was down 4.6% year-on-year to $294.5m.
The poor Q2 performance followed a similarly negative Q1 report, which was blamed on prolonged stretches of inclement weather. The Q2 report indicated that hotel occupancy was down 4.4 points to 81.4%.
Contributions from the market’s two new casinos represented only five days’ business in Q2, so we’ll have to wait until the Q3 report to determine what effect the increased competition is having on the market’s overall profitability.
The new casinos’ arrival coincided with the launch of legal sports betting in the state, which, along with the increasingly robust online gambling segment, have provided a welcome boost to AC’s monthly gaming revenue totals.