Hard Rock Casino Plans $500 Million Renovation for August 2017

Atlantic City Hard Rock Casino May 2018 Opening

The Atlantic City Hard Rock Casino will receive $500 million in renovations.

The Atlantic City Hard Rock Casino revealed its opening date this week: Memorial Day Weekend 2018 at the latest. Hard Rock International’s casino will open inside the former Trump Taj Mahal on the boardwalk.

Hard Rock International plans a $500 million renovation of the Taj, which once was the most famous and prestigious casino in Atlantic City. The casino closed in October 2016, after owner Carl Icahn announced a shutdown amidst a union strike.

Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, bought the casino and hotel from Carl Icahn earlier this year for $50 million. At the time, Icahn said he had lost $300 million on his investment; he squarely blamed the Local 54 of UNITE-Here union and New Jersey lawmakers for the failure of the casino.

Jim Allen Promises $500 Million Investment

Jim Allen, the current chairman of Hard Rock and a former Trump Entertainment Resorts executive, said his company is committed to rebranding the resort. He said that Trump Taj Mahal will be expanded and beautified in the renovation, which Allen hopes will make the new casino one of the most recognizable and lucrative in the city.

The company’s chairman said, “We are committed to a minimum of $500 million that we’re going to put back into that building. It does us no good to put some guitars on the wall and new carpets, and say, ‘I can take 5 or 10% of the business from Resorts or Harrah’s’.

CRDA Says Casino “Brings Relief to the City”

Robert Mulcahy, the chairman of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), believes the new project is a boon to the city’s residents — especially those in need of a job.

Mr. Mulcahy said, “This is an exciting project and certainly brings some relief to the city. We look forward to seeing the project come to fruition.”

Demolition in July, Construction in August

Joe Emanuele, the Senior Vice President of Design and Construction for Hard Rock International, said that the construction phase begins in July 2017. Emantuele said, “We hope to start demolition by next month and full construction by August.”

The construction is expected to create over a thousand much-needed jobs in the Atlantic City area. No details on the number of permanent jobs are available, but the Trump Taj Mahal created 3,000 and the Hard Rock Atlantic City is expected to be a larger gaming operation.

Strengthening Atlantic City’s Economy

Hard Rock’s SVP of Design & Construction said, “The planned renovations will transform the 4.2 million square feet of defunct casino hotel space into a state-of-the-art casino, hotel, retail, dining and entertainment facility, increasing employment opportunities and strengthening Atlantic City and New Jersey’s economies.

At present, Atlantic City has 7 operating brick-and-mortar casinos. Those include MGM Resorts’ Borgata, along with Morris Bailey’s Resorts Casino, Carl Icahn’s Tropicana, and Landry’s Inc.’s Golden Nugget Atlantic City. The final three casinos active right now are Caesars Entertainment properties, including Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s, and Bally’s.

When it reopens in May 2018, Hard Rock Atlantic City will give the city 8 active land-based casinos. That should help the jobs market in a city of 40,000 significantly, though the seven casinos now operating would prefer less competition. When the casino industry shrank from 12 to 7 from 2014 to 2016, the remaining operations became profitable.

There is an outside chance that a 9th casino might open in the next year or two. The ill-fated $2.4 billion Revel Casino was bought out for $83 million by Glenn Straub’s Polo North in 2015. Straub has been unable to acquire a gaming license for his renamed TEN Casino. If that happened, the local market might become saturated. Before the rest of the American northeast’s state governments approved casino gambling, Atlantic City could sustain a larger number of casinos. With the market fragmented between New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Atlantic City’s gaming market can sustain only a small number of gaming operations.