Hard Rock Granted New Casino License in Atlantic City

hard rock casino

After repeatedly trying to open a casino in Atlantic City for the last 10 years, Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida has been granted a gaming license to reopen a property formerly owned by Donald Trump, the Trump Taj Mahal. The new/old casino is scheduled to reopen on June 28th, with the hope the reopening of the casino is the first of many casino re-openings for a town that was hit hard by the economic downturn during the Great Recession.

Hard Rock International

Hard Rock International, which began as a restaurant chain in England in 1971, now owns 191 locations: restaurants, hotel and casinos, in 75 countries around the world. Their newest casino, renamed the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, will have 120,000 feet of gaming space, including machines and tables, as well as online gaming. The hotel will have 2100 rooms and suites. The new casino is expected to employ about 4000 employees.

The New Casino

The casino has been gutted and all Indian-themed décor has been removed and will be replaced with the traditional rock n roll theme. It is hoped the Hard Rock property, as well as the reopening of the old Revel Casino as the Ocean Resort casino on the same day will spur further development in the Atlantic City area, which lost half of its casinos by 2016.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the casino is the entertainment already slated to perform once the casino opens. The company has already budgeted $30 million for entertainment in the first year of the casino’s operation. Acts already scheduled include Carrie Underwood and Pitbull during the first week the casino is in operation. Other comedy, musical, and drama acts include: “Amy Schumer and artists Blake Shelton, Third Eye Blind, Kid Rock, Steely Dan, Stone Temple Pilots, Counting Crows, Florida Georgia Line, Bush and Frankie Valli.” Hard Rock has promised 60 musical acts and 300 days of entertainment during 2018-19.

No debt

Unlike other casinos, the Hard Rock development has no financing, as it is debt free because of the investment of the company and its investment partners in the area. While this arrangement is not unusual for Hard Rock International, it is unusual for casinos in general. Trump Taj Mahal’s debt load and inability to negotiate with its labor force or its creditors led to its bankruptcy in 2016. This lack of debt load immediately makes the casino competitive, as nearly every other casino in the area, including both the Atlantic City area and the nearby Catskills/Hudson Valley area of New York, are operating under heavy debt loads. The debt loads have become all the more burdensome in the Catskills since revenues for three of the four Catskills casinos are not meeting projections. In addition, many critics feel the Northeast market is saturated with casinos, which means the Hard Rock casino will need a competitive edge.

The newest casino in Atlantic City is poised to offer something the market in Atlantic City has not seen for five years: live entertainment on a grand scale, a debt free casino and a unique business model. Although some former clients of the Taj Mahal may be sad to see the strip club go, other casinos in the area can offer live entertainment, a large gaming floor and new hotel rooms. Only the Hard Rock Casino can offer all of these amenities in a debt-free environment. Atlantic City hopes the opening of this casino at the end of June is the beginning of a restoration for the area’s casinos in general.

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