Turns out it was not love at first sight which spurned on the sale of the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City to Hard Rock International. According to Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen, the Taj Mahal was one of two contenders. The shuttered Revel nee TEN AC was the other.

As tends to be the case when it comes to anything involving TEN or its owner Glenn Straub though, there is dispute over just how true Allen’s claims are.

Hard Rock has been interested in NJ casino market for a while

There is certainly validity to the claim Hard Rock has been looking to find a way into the New Jersey casino business long before it purchased the Taj Mahal.

Last year, Hard Rock International was one of the groups pushing the voter referendum to expand brick-and-mortar casinos in New Jersey to the northern part of the state. The referendum failed by record numbers, so the plans to build a Hard Rock property next to the Meadowlands Stadium were put on the backburner.

Allen spoke with Press of Atlantic City about how the group came to purchase the Taj Mahal. “We looked at Revel,” he said. “First, it’s designed to the highest levels. When it opened, it was a $1.2 billion property. The layout, the amount of rooms, Etess Arena, Xanadu made it attractive to us.”

Joseph Jingoli, who has been tasked with helping redevelop the end of the Boardwalk where TEN and Taj Mahal are located, basically admitted Taj Mahal was a case of sloppy seconds.

“The Taj thing, it just kind of happened. We were trying to do the Revel, and then this came up.”

Straub denies any serious sale talks occurred

Straub was quick to dismiss the suggestion he was selling the casino resort.

“Never talked with anyone about Revel,” Straub said when asked about the Hard Rock inquiries. “When I purchased the property, many people made offers.”

Those two sentences seemingly contradict one another. First Straub says he did not discuss selling. Then he says he has had offers.

Either way, Straub does have a history of denying conversations take place and pointing fingers. Ever since he purchased the distressed Revel property, Straub has been fighting with everyone from the city to the state senate to the Division of Gaming Enforcement to the power company. Most recently he drew raised eyebrows for comparing the process of re-opening TEN to “rape.”

Straub did wish the new owners well on the endeavor. The Taj Mahal and TEN are located close to one another, but Straub thinks the new property will help his resort more than hurt it.

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Still room on the Boardwalk for more casino operators?

There is still the possibility a different casino player gets into the Southeast Inlet area of the city through TEN. Straub has been clear he has no intention to operate the casino portion of his property and is intending to lease the gaming space to someone else.

Atlantic City officials insist Straub needs a gaming license before TEN can re-open with a casino. Sen. Ray Lesniak has introduced a bill that would exempt “landlords” like Straub, but it has yet to make any progress in the state legislature.